In aftermath of Dangri attack, weapon distribution drive among village guards starts in Rajouri

Some women too have asked to be part of the volunteer group and receive arms training

January 07, 2023 11:44 pm | Updated January 08, 2023 12:15 am IST - Jammu

NIA team at Dangri village where 6 civilians were killed in the twin terror incidents in Rajouri on January 3.

NIA team at Dangri village where 6 civilians were killed in the twin terror incidents in Rajouri on January 3. | Photo Credit: PTI

A weapon distribution camp and assessment of weapon stock among the members of the Village Defence Guards (VDGs) were organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Police in Rajouri on Saturday, six days after militants killed six civilians and injured 15 others in Dangri.  

Official sources said fresh weapons, mainly .303 rifles, were distributed among the VDG volunteers and an assessment regarding their training was carried out by the police.

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“The allotment of guns and cartridges to the VDGs is to bolster the security of the area. The weapons and ammunition is being provided to the VDGs by police authorities,” said Deputy Commissioner Vikas Kundal, while on a visit to Baljaralan in Rajouri to inspect the allotment of guns and cartridges.

He interacted with the VDGs and inquired about their familiarity with the weapons. He urged them to work for the safety and security of the people in the area. 

“The VDGs requested special training to ensure that they are comfortable while handling the weapons,” an official spokesman said.

Village-wise training programs would be organised for the VDGs after the weapons are distributed, Mr. Kundal said. “Appropriate measures would be taken to maintain peace and tranquillity in the district,” he added.

There is growing demand even among the women of Rajouri to get recruited as VDGs. “We are able to do all the chores of the house. We are tough enough to get training in weapons too to defend ourselves. Especially in families where men stay out for work, women should get arms training,” a woman said.  

Also read | CRPF men arrive in Rajouri’s Dangri; people seek better rifles for Village Defence Committees

The January 1 attack by militants in Dangri has sent a wave of fear over Rajouri and Poonch districts of the Pir Panjal valley. Several members of the Village Defence Committee, a name used for VDGs earlier, have started night patrolling in Mangnar village of Poonch. “We demand better weapons and wireless sets. The Dangri incident has shaken all of us,” a VDC member said.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) also visited Dangri and demanded weapons and training for residents.

“There should be an inquiry to find out why weapons were withdrawn from VDCs in the absence of any government order in Rajouri. Those police officers who decided to withdraw weapons should face action. The attack seems to be a plan to force exodus. There is a sense of insecurity among locals. Weapons and training have become a necessity,” a RSS leader said.  

Meanwhile, BJP state president Ravinder Raina also promised that fresh “VDCs will be formed and the security system strengthened in Rajouri”.

VDCs were constituted in 1995 in 10 districts of the Jammu region, where militants carried out massacres of members of minority communities till 2006. However, with the decline of militancy in the Jammu region and such attacks coming to a naught, the previous regimes in J&K decided to disband such VDCs and withdraw weapons from volunteers. 

Around 26,567 residents were recruited into VDCs in the Jammu region. These volunteers also faced allegations of crimes, including kidnapping and rape. However, the Union government in March 2022 planned to re-establish VDCs with a new name — Village Defence Guards.

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