Disarm VDCs

Three days after a Village Defence Committee member killed a youth National Conference leader in Rajouri, two ministers in the state government have called for reviewing the continuation of VDCs in the state.

Three days after a Village Defence Committee member killed a youth National Conference leader in Rajouri, two ministers in the state government  have called for reviewing the continuation of VDCs in the state. Significantly, the ministers are one each from PDP and BJP. ChoudharyZulfikar Ali of PDP has sought disbanding of  VDCs from the areas where normalcy has been restored, Abdul Gani Kohli has demanded review of the weapons allotted to VDCs so that these do not fall into wrong hands. However, the government is far from a firm decision to disband VDCs, an illegal militia if we go by the Supreme Court order in 2013 case of Nandini Sundar and Others versus the State of Chattisgarh. The court held unconstitutional the recruitment of a section of the tribal people as ad hoc Special Police Officers and of civil vigilante militias like Salwa Judum for counterinsurgency operations. J&K government has justified the existence of VDCs as an anti-dote to militancy. In the nineties, arming of the villagers was deemed necessary to safeguard them against the militants. But with militancy down to nothing in Jammu province the argument that the VDCs were needed to fight militancy is no longer valid. Most of the areas in Jammu have now been declared free of the militants. And with their primary objective thus eliminated, the VDCs have no reason to exist. But the successive state governments have persisted with the militia, nevertheless; a policy that defies explanation considering in 1996 at the peak of militancy, the then state government had moved quickly to wind up Ikhwan, a pro-government militia comprising former militants. There are 26,567 VDC members fighting militancy in 10 districts of Jammu province and Leh district of Ladakh and around 96 per cent of them are from a particular community. This disproportion in their religious composition remains a cause of deep concern. With one more killing of an innocent person by a VDC member adding to a long list of the human rights excesses by the militia, the government can't be expected to behave like a spectator. Need now is for a decisive policy shift on VDCs.

No stories found.
Greater Kashmir
www.greaterkashmir.com