The Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday took the wind out of the sails of separatist forces and several mainstream political leaders spreading a campaign against the village defence committees for a long time by announcing on the floor of the house that there is no proposal to disband Village Defence Committees (VDCs), operating in parts of the Jammu region since September 1995.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who also hold the Home portfolio informed the Legislative Assembly in a written reply to a question by Independent member Er Sheikh Abdul Rashid,“Given the security situation in the state and the role played by the VDCs, there is no proposal to disband them (VDC),” he said.
However, the reply said the volunteers of VDCs do not enjoy any special privilege or immunity and action in accordance with relevant provisions of law is taken against them in case they are found indulging in unlawful activities.
FIRs were registered against 151 VDC members for committing different offences. Challan of majority of them have been produced in the court of law while some were convicted and a few were acquitted. Investigation in some cases was also going on while one remained untraced.
Against 5,000 sanctioned VDCs, 4,112 have been constituted. The number of Special Police Officer (SPOs) working with VDCs was 4574 while the number of members working with VDCs was 26,425, the reply said.
It said no remuneration is being paid to volunteers working with VDCs on account of their voluntary nature of engagement.
However, SPOs working with VDCs are being paid a monthly honorarium of Rs 3,000.
Mr Abdullah said the selection of an area would be made after carefully taking into account the threat of militants, location of security forces in the vicinity and capacity and willingness of villagers to organise themselves against the militants.