Arming VDCs admission of GoI’s failure in J&K: Omar Abdullah

Arming VDCs admission of GoI's failure in J&K: Omar Abdullah

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday said the arming of village defence committees (VDCs) with weapons to defend villagers from militants negated New Delhi’s claim of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir. Omar also said people would not beg the Centre to hold elections in J&K.

“Arming the VDCs means the Centre has accepted its failure. On August 5, 2019, the nation was told that with the abrogation of Article 370, the influence of gun culture will start to subside. However, as is clear, that is not the case with the kind of attack we saw in Rajouri, the situation in Kashmir and the number of security personnel being increased …. All this points to the fact that the situation is not under control. The government is now compelled to take these steps,” Omar told reporters in Anantnag district.

The J&K administration has revamped and equipped village defence guards, earlier known as village defence committees, with guns following civilians killings at Dhangri in Rajouri district. The Central Reserve Police Force will train them, so that they are able to counter terrorist attacks in a better way, officials said.

In 1995, the central government set up armed volunteers known as VDCs, mostly Hindus, to fight militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. Initially, there were around 5,000 VDC members, but over the years, their number has grown to over 28,000 in the Jammu region.

Since then, VDCs have come under sharp criticism for human rights violations in remote areas of the Jammu division. Omar said if elections were not held this year, “so be it”. “We are not beggars. I have said it time and again. Kashmiris are not beggars. The election is our right but we will not beg before them for this right,” he said.

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