April 2002 News

VDC members valiant fight runs short of ammunition

8 April 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Mohinder Verma

Jammu: ''We had the guts to take on a group of around 20 terrorists and to safeguard the lives of civilians of our village as we amply demonstrated the same by giving a tough fight to the ultras for about eight hours and that too with antiquated .303 rifles till we ran out of ammunition''. These were the feelings of a surviving Village Defence Committee (VDC) member who along with other VDC members gave eight -hours long fight to high-tech terrorists at village Dhansal in Arnas block of Mahore tehsil that witnessed a massacre during the intervening night of April 7 and 8. ''The precious lives of seven civilians claimed by perpetrators of mayhem and bloodshed could have been saved had we not run out of ammunition during fierce gunbattle'', Chain Singh, who was injured in the gunbattle and presently recuperating in Government Medical College and Hospital Jammu, told this visiting EXCELSIOR correspondent. Recalling the incident of July 12, 2001 when the VDC members had beaten back a group of 18 militants in the same village, Chain Singh said ''still we have enough courage to take on such a huge number of terrorists which you can imagine from the fact that we gave tough fight to high-tech terrorists''. ''Had we been in possession of the sophisticated weapons and adequate ammunition, we would have either succeeded in killing the terrorists or forced them to flee'', a 19 year old VDC member Krishan Singh, who sustained multiple injuries on his arm, leg and back, in this encounter, said. Chain Singh, who lost his sister and her daughter in the attack, said the terrorists with long beards, swooped down on Dhansal village and cordoned it off with the assistance of local ultras. ''After completely cordoning off the village the terrorists, around 20-25 in numbers, resorted to indiscriminate firing on the houses of Hindus and hurled grenades'', Chain Singh, who suffered bullet injuries on his back, said, adding ''four groups of VDCs, each comprising of five members, immediately took positions for retaliation''. ''We fought for eight hours but became hapless when we exhausted ammunition . That gave terrorists an upper hand over us and our families'', Krishan Singh said, adding ''Sat Logo Ki Mout Ke Liya Sarkar Hi Doshi Hai''. Both Chain Singh and Krishan Singh were highly critical of attitude of State Government towards the Village Defence Committees (VDCs) and said ''our repeated pleas for security personnelís pickets in our villages always fell on the deaf ears of the concerned authorities''. ''We are provided with obsolete.303 rifles with meagre 50 rounds to each member to fight and protect the lives of civilians from the terrorists equipped with sophisticated weapons like AK rifles, rocket launchers and grenades'', both of the surviving VDC members said, adding ''since we had beaten back a group of 18 terrorists in July 2001 we repeatedly approached Sarpanch, senior police as well as administrative authorities for establishing picket of Special Task Force (STF) in the Dhansal village but all in vain, resulting into this carnage''. They also apprehended involvement of some locals in the carnage by saying ''how terrorists came to know about the houses of all VDC members and why did they attack the house of only Hindus''. They disclosed that last year, some local youth, who were the members of VDC, handed over their weapons to incharge of VDC and later joined the terrorist ranks . They apprehended that massacre might be executed after the information provided by these youth who initially deserted VDC. ''Since last two years each VDC member received meagre Rs 1500 which is not enough to feed even children'', Chain Singh said, adding ''despite such a meagre amount we are fighting with terrorists like anything''. He recounted how the terrorists burnt the houses of Hindu families in a fit of rage as they were given tough fight by VDC members and said that terrorists remained in the village till the houses reduced to ashes. Chain Singh, who along with families of his four brothers, faced the brunt of terrorism, has made up his mind not to stay anymore in Dhansal village and said ''all of us have lost all belongings in burnt houses and we have left with clothes we are wearing''. ''What is the fun to stay there and fight with antiquated weapons when administration is not ready to pay any heed to our woes'', he questioned and said ''if the Government maintained such an attitude none of the minority community member will stay in upper reaches''. This correspondent saw a heart rendering scene in Room No.4 of Emergency Ward where a 10- year old girl Sushama was admitted. The girl had critical wounds on her head and face and she was not aware of the fact that she has lost mother and sister. She was not even taken care off by the hospital staff.


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