To instil a sense of security among villagers of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri and Poonch, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) will train the Village Defence Committees – groups armed by the government to defend against terrorist attacks.
“The CRPF would impart training to villagers but it is yet to be decided whether weapons would be also be provided to them and if yes then whether it would be small arms or rifle,” a senior Home Ministry official said.
According to him, the “final contours” of the training schedule, variety of arms to be included and number of participants will be decided in due course of time.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration has recently started reissuing weapons to village defence guards (VDGs), earlier known as village defence committees (VDCs), following the Dhangri incident in Rajouri district in which seven people were killed. The VDGs comprise local village volunteers.
In 1990s, VDGs were given training and arms in Rajouri-Poonch areas. “There were attacks on a section of community then also and in order to stop mass migrations that time VDGs were given arms too,” explains an official on the ground.
After recent attacks, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has asked the VDGs to remain vigilant in view of the upcoming Republic Day celebrations, amid fears that terrorists may disrupt the peaceful atmosphere in the Jammu region, officials said.
VDGs have also been activated along the India-Pakistan International Border (IB) in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts, they said.