September 2000 News

Jammu And Kashmir To Raise Self Defence Teams For Migrants

19 September 2000
The Indian Express

Jammu: Very soon, youngsters from the Kashmiri Pandit community will be seen moving with 12 bore rifles and making rounds of the migrant camps to prevent attacks by militants. For the first time in 11 years of militancy, the Jammu and Kashmir Government has felt the need for Village Defence Committees (VDC''s) at the seven migrant camps here. A senior police officer said they have got sanction for 120 committees of which 12 have been earmarked for the camps. Each VDC group is said to comprise around 6-7 members. Each group will be provided Rs 4500, which means a member can get around Rs 750-850. Each member will be provided a rifle and 100 bullets. Police said the VDCs have been planned following intelligence inputs about possible militant strikes on the camps, once the durbar shifts to Jammu. ''Nothing can be ruled out. Militants are always after soft targets,'' said S P Vaid, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Jammu Kathua range. Senior Superintendent of Police (Jammu) R S Swain has been authorised to select members for the committees. He said representatives of the camps at Muthi recently met him and they are yet to finalise the selection process for training. ''Like in the past, we will visit a particular place and ask the senior citizens to recommend names.'' He explained that physical standards are no criteria for the selection. ''What we need from the recruits is motivation and a secular outlook,'' he said. Vaid said that at present a policeman is posted at all the camps. ''This is not sufficient. We had no other option but to train and arm the unemployed youth from the camps to strengthen the security,'' Vaid added. The pandits are however not enthused. They want the government to recruit the youth as SPOs rather than induct them as VDCs. ''The government should atleast consider that our youth are educated. They should be appointed as SPOs so that they can earn enough to support their families,'' said a migrant at the Purkhoo camp. Ajay Chungroo, Chairman Panun Kashmir expressed unhappiness over the delay. He said the police should have set up the VDCs long ago. ''The pandits have been highlighting the atrocities by the so called jehadis. That makes them vulnerable.''


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