The demands for disbanding Village Defence Committees (VDCs) have grown shriller with the killing of National Conference youth leader allegedly by an armed VDC member in Rajouri.
Independent Legislator Engineer Rashid has described these VDCs as state ‘sponsored terrorist gangs’ while another legislator Hakim Muhammad Yasin called these committees as ‘terror committees’ with license to suppress innocent people.
Cutting across party lines, almost all the National Conference and independent legislators as well as majority of PDP and Congress members from Kashmir think that it is the ripe time for the government to disband VDCs that according to these legislators indulge in arson, loot, murder, extortion, kidnapping, molestation, rape and other anti-social acts off and on.
National Conference General Secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar told CNS that VDCs have become a threat to life and property of the people and they should be asked to handover the weapons.
Senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and legislator Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami told CNS that the act of killing of National Conference youth leader is heinous and again VDC members proved that they are more dangerous than terrorists. “This whole organization (VDC) should be disbanded and all the members should be disarmed without any delay,” he added.
“One fails to understand what prevents the government from disarming these ‘terrorist’ committees when militancy in the State is all time low.
These VDC members are killers who always target a particular community,” said former member parliament Abdul Rashid Kabuli.
The VDCs in Jammu and Ladakh were created during Governor’s rule in 1995. According to official figures, there are over 26500 VDC members operating in 10 districts of Jammu and Leh district of Ladakh region. These Committees were constituted to ‘supplement’ Indian Forces to combat militancy besides ‘protecting’ the local population of villages.
Right from 1995, these VDC members have been indulging in social crimes while there anti-social acts sparked multiple protests from Muslim community in Jammu region particularly in Chenab Valley. “The people of Chenab Valley have been subjected to worst atrocities by VDCs and their cries go unheard. VDCs, that comprise non-Muslims, have been unleashing terror in the areas of Doda, Kishtwar, Rajouri and Poonch,” claimed Legislator Engineer.
Senior Hurriyat leader Aaga Syed Hasan said that these VDC’s arrest Muslim youth under fake cases and project them as militants. They are involved in extortion, issuing threats, kidnapping of Muslim girls and even rapes. The only thing is their atrocities don’t come to fore,” he said. Another separatist leader Muhammad Yousuf Naqash said that after committing every social crime.
A police official on condition of anonymity told CNS that scores of FIRs stand registered against VDC members for their alleged involvement in social crimes.
In September 2010, a VDC member was disarmed and arrested for allegedly making a rape bid on a girl in Badherwah. In July 2013, 4 persons including the brother of a Village Defence Committee (VDC) member were arrested after they kidnapped and raped a 15-year-old girl in Kuntwara, a remote village of Kishtwar district. In July this year, a VDC member was arrested for firing shots, triggering panic and terror among the people in Rajouri district.