BJP, PDP Spar Over Village Defence Committees
Curfew in Srinagar after clashes on VDCs. Photo: Basit Zargar
NEW DELHI: The PDP-BJP coalition in Jammu and Kashmir seem to be at loggerheads with each other over disbanding of the controversial Village Defence Committees (VDC) in Jammu and Kashmir.
Days after the deputy chief minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, clarified that the government has no proposal to disband the committees, a senior PDP minister Sunday favoured disbanding of the force which has "outlived its purpose".
"The continuance of VDCs needs to be reviewed and where there is peace, there is no need of them," CAPD Minister and PDP leader, Chaudhary Zulfkar Ali, said.
Echoing the views of the top PDP leader and education minister, Naeem Akhtar, who last week favoured disbanding of VDCs, Zulfkar said such committees were established when the situation was not normal in Jammu and Kashmir.
"Now is the time to disband them," PDP leader Zulfkar said.
However, the BJP's newly elected state president, Sat Sharma, told a local news agency that the right wing party stands for continuation of VDCs. “From day one, BJP has said that VDCs should be strengthened. They have played a role in curbing militancy in Jammu region and along the border,” Sharma said.
While the BJP favours continuation of the VDCs, whose members have been found involved in 196 heinous cases of murder, loot and rape, across the state, Zulfkar said he would take up the issue with the Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who is currently in New Delhi undergoing treatment.
"The Chief Minister is out of station and whenever he will come back, we will take it up. Recently, two incidents happened in my area and they are very unfortunate where the government weapons have been used for killing somebody which should not have happened," said Zulfkar, responding to the demands by opposition National Conference (NC) and separatist groups for disbanding the VDCs in the wake of recent killings of three persons, including a minor, in Rajouri district of Jammu.
"We are very clear that the VDCs needs to be reviewed and they are to be disbanded where the gun is used against the civilians," the PDP leader said.
Earlier, the deputy chief minister Dr Nirmal Singh said the VDCs have played a big role in counter-insurgency and defending population in remote and rural areas of the state. "There have been some incidents by some VDC members and police is looking into it. The law will take its course," he said.
The demands by NC and other mainstream groups as well as separatist groups for disbanding the VDCs grew louder after a VDC member Mushtaq Ahmed had shot dead Shamima Akhter and her three-year-old son Tohid from his rifle in village Samote of Budhal tehsil in Rajouri district.
Earlier, on December 19, another VDC member Kewal Sharma had allegedly shot dead a National Conference (NC) leader Ishtiyaq Ahmed over some altercation in Potha village of Kalakote tehsil in Rajouri district.
VDCs were set up by the state government and the executing agency was J&K police which armed volunteers for countering heavily insurgents in 1992-93. Although the policy worked, it's spillover effects were felt by the local population who became their victims in loot, plunder and murder.