Amid growing clamor for disbanding the Village Defence Committees (VDCs) in Jammu region, voices have emerged from within the J&K government in support of the idea even as the State Home Ministry has ruled out their dissolution.
While PDP minister ChoudharyZulfikar Ali said VDCs should be disbanded from the areas where normalcy has been restored, BJP Minister Abdul GaniKohli demanded review of the weapons issued to them.
The ministers – both hailing from Muslim dominated Pir Panchal region – expressed these views in the backdrop of the killing of a civilian by VDC members in Kalakote area of Rajouri district.
The killing has triggered widespread resentment in the State with political parties and rights groups demanding disbanding of VDCs.
"The VDCs should be disbanded from the areas where the situation is peaceful and normal," Minister ChoudharyZulfikar Ali said.
"These groups were created under certain circumstances in some areas. And if these circumstances don't prevail in those areas, then they should be disbanded (from those areas)," he said.
He, however, quickly added that VDCs should remain intact in the areas where the situation is still volatile.
Another minister from the region, Kohli, however, called for review of the weapons allotted to VDCs to prevent their recurrent misuse. "I will take up the issue with Chief Minister and Director General of Police," he said, adding "the review is must so that the weapons allotted to them don't fall in the wrong hands."
Earlier this year, State Home department had informed the legislature that the government has no proposal to disband VDCs.
The PDP-BJP stand on the controversial force is similar to the line taken by three previous elected governments in the State since 1996.
Set up in 1995 when state was under President's Rule, the Village Defence Committees are believed to be the brainchild of former Director General of Police KuldeepKhoda, when he was posted as DIG Doda-Udhampur range in 90s.
The idea behind the creation of VDCs was somehow similar to the experiment in 1965 and 1971 wars in Jammu region. During the wars with Pakistan, the State Police had issued over 2,500 rifles to civilians to supplement the forces and curb cross border movement, the State Home Department claims in an official document. However, later the weapons were withdrawn or had become unserviceable.