[Answered] What are Village Defence Guards? Why is there a demand for a revival of the erstwhile Village Defence Committees (VDC)?

Introduction: Explain Village Defence Guards.
Body: Explain why there is a demand for a revival of the erstwhile Village Defence Committees (VDC).
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

The VDCs (Village Defence Committees) were first formed in the erstwhile Doda district in mid 1990s as a force multiplier against militant attacks. The VDCs have now been renamed as Village Defence Guards (VDG).  The VDGs play a crucial role in maintaining security in rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir. They are responsible for providing intelligence to the security forces and help in counter-insurgency operations. They are also armed and trained by the Indian Government.

The VDGs also function under the supervision of district superintendent of police (SP)/Senior superintendent of police (SSP).The aim of VDGs is to organize a small group of volunteer armed civilians in the identified villages along the borders as well as in-depth areas of the Jammu division, with a view to instill a sense of self-protection and ensure safety and security of such villages.

Due to following reasons there is a demand for a revival of the erstwhile Village Defence Committees (VDC):

  • Due to the rise in terror-related strikes in the relatively peaceful Jammu division, especially in the border districts of Rajouri and Poonch. Any complacency on the part of the state could be disastrous in the mid and long terms.
  • The dynamics of militancy in these regions are different from those prevalent in Kashmir due to the demographic profile of an almost equal proportion of Hindus and Muslims. The agency of the local population in a conflict zone cannot be overlooked.
  • In January, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, there were infiltration attempts, recoveries of war-like stores, explosions followed by gunshots at the house of a local MLA, a neutralisation of hideouts, and the nabbing of suspects in Rajouri and Poonch.
  • The demand for the revival of VDCs arose after militant activities resurfaced in areas where peace had long since been restored.

A good control mechanism is needed to ensure that cadres remain motivated and focused. The revival of the VDG should be used as an opportunity to empower the local bodies. Panchayats are most suited to understand local dynamics in a conflict zone that change rapidly from one sub-region to the other.

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