Discuss the origin, role played and various issues related to Village Defence Committees (VDCs) in Jammu & Kashmir.
The Village Defence Committees (VDCs) came into existence for “self-defence” and “supplementing efforts of the forces to curb militancy and cross-border infiltration” in 1999. They played a crucial role in fighting the militants. VDCs were meant to “provide defence” to the villages and to check trans-border movement. While the threat of militancy significantly went down in the last decade, members of the VDCs started increasingly using their weapons for settling personal disputes. There are incidents of involvement of VDC members in human rights violations including rape, kidnapping, torture and murder, has raised the demand for its abolition. of VDCs. The VDC members are being exploited by politicians to “terrorise” the villagersfor local political interests and to get the votes during elections.
While Kashmir-based politicians demand immediate abolition of VDCs, political leaders in Jammu have openly demanded their strengthening.
However time is not appropriate to disband the VDCs as militancy has not been eliminated completely. Just like the way a person is punished under law for making a mistake, similar provisions can be put in place for VDCs as well.It is high time that VDCs are regulated rather than being totally abolished.