The Peoples Democratic Party staged a demonstration here on Monday demanding withdrawal of an FIR against some party leaders, including former MLC Firdous Tak, last week.
Tak and some other party leaders were booked for allegedly instigating people after they held a protest near a mosque in Kishtwar district last Friday against the reported plans of the Jammu and Kashmir administration to strengthen the village defence committees (VDCs).
“We gathered here to protest the registration of the FIR against party leaders in Kishtwar,” PDP youth leader Parvez Waffa, who was leading the protest, told reporters. “Our party is against arming of civilians, especially belonging to a particular community and subscribing to a particular ideology.”
Police have started a process to replace 352 VDC members and 117 special police officers (SPOs), who are above the age of 60 years. The move comes after the district was rattled by the killing of BJP state secretary Anil Parihar and his brother Ajeet Parihar last November, followed by the assassination of senior RSS leader Chanderkant Sharma and his security guard inside a health centre in April.
Waffa pointed out that the Constitution has given the citizens of the country a right to highlight their demands by peaceful demonstrations, alleging the present dispensation in the state was snatching this right by registering police cases.
“Tak and his colleagues have come on the roads to raise the concerns of various sections of the society over the arming of civilians in the district,” he said and cautioned that the PDP activists would hit the roads across the state if the FIR against the party leaders was not withdrawn.
The VDCs were set up in the mid-1990s with an aim to strengthen the security of those living in remote and mountainous areas of Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Rajouri, Reasi, Kathua and Poonch districts of the Jammu region. The members of these committees not only guard the identified villages along the border, but also the infrastructural installations in and around them.