Stepping Up Security: Police Intensify Training for Village Defense Guards After Terror Attacks

Stepping Up Security: Police Intensify Training for Village Defense Guards After Terror Attacks

Hundreds of people are being given arms training in the far-off areas of Jammu—especially those inhabited by the Hindu population—to deal with the terror threat that is looming large over many parts of the region. Multiple attacks have taken place on security forces and civilians in Rajouri, Poonch and Reasi in the recent past, prompting the police to intensify the training of locals under the Village Defence Guards (VDG) scheme.

While the VDGs (earlier called Village Defence Committees) have been functioning in the rural areas of Jammu division since long, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had restructured them in March 2022. It was a VDG member who fired shots when two terrorists started killing members of Hindu population in the Dhangri area of Rajouri on January 1, 2023. While the VDG member’s action forced the terrorists to flee the spot, five persons received bullet wounds and died in the incident.

After the spate of attacks in different areas of Rajouri, Poonch and Reasi during the past one year, locals are being provided arms training at regular intervals. Their weapons are also inspected thoroughly by the police so that they do not develop any snag when needed.

A similar training was provided to the locals in Reasi a few days before the attack on a bus carrying pilgrims took place on June 9. Nine persons, including a two-year-old boy, were killed in the ambush, when their bus was attacked by a group of ultras.

In a statement on June 6, Reasi SSP Mohita Sharma had said that as VDG members play a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and security in villages, it was important that they continue firing practice with their own weapons. “The Reasi police will conduct many other exercises with the involvement of VDG members in the future,” she had said.

Considering that the VDGs are an invaluable asset to the police and a force multiplier for the region’s security, the Reasi police have chalked out a detailed strategy for arms training for the guards. Under this exercise, all VDG members are called at the nearest firing butts of their areas for firing practice. The Reasi police are training 5,547 VDG members, including 20 women, who are deployed in their villages. Besides Rajouri, Poonch and Reasi, VDGs are deployed in Doda, Kishtwar and parts of Jammu.

A member of VDG was killed in an encounter with terrorists in Udhampur’s Basantgarh on April 28. The VDG was accompanying the police after an input had been received regarding the movement of ultras.

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