STATE TIMES NEWS
Rajouri: Police in Rajouri district have started a programme to enhance weapon handling and firing skills of members of Village Defence Committees, which were established in various regions of Jammu and Kashmir in the early 2000s to combat terrorism.
Several training camps were conducted across the district on Sunday, officials said.
To further develop weapon handling and firing skills of Village Defence Committee (VDC) members and ensure proper maintenance of their weapons, the Rajouri police have undertaken a significant training exercise, they said.
Training camps were organised at multiple locations within the district, with hundreds of VDC members participating, the officials said. Specially designated weapon trainers from the District Police Line Rajouri led these camps, delivering presentations to VDC members on effective weapon handling, cleaning and firing techniques, they said.
Village Defence Committee (VDC) member Madan Mohan Sharma termed the exercise as fruitful and said it will sharpen the skills of VDC members amid repeated terror incidents in Rajouri and Poonch districts.
“The situation in our area is not that much peaceful… as multiple terrorist incidents and encounters have taken place. In such a situation, VDCs have an important role to play,” Sharma said.
“VDCs have proved their mettle in early 2000 and we even played role in counter terror operations,” he said.
Locals with commendable background were equipped with .303 rifles under the VDC initiative, the officials said.
While VDC members in the Chenab Valley districts receive payment for their services, those in Rajouri and Poonch districts serve on a voluntary basis, playing a crucial role in ensuring safety within their villages and collaborating with security forces during area patrols and counter-terrorism operations, they said.
Though VDCs in Rajouri and Poonch districts did not receive much attention during the peaceful period from 2010 to 2018, they have now been fully activated, with the government and security forces implementing various measures to strengthen them, the officials said.
This move gained significant momentum after the January 1 Dhangri terror attack that claimed seven lives and injured to 13 others, they said.
Following this incident, demands for reinforcing VDCs were raised by the people and subsequently conveyed to the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, the officials said.
Kamal Kishore Sharma, another VDC member hailed the exercise of police and called for regular training camps.
“There is a need to further strengthen VDCs. Ex-servicemen should be involved in VDCs and provided with SLRs while more VDCs should be raised so that every village has its own civil defence to deal with threat of terrorism,” he said.
In recent months, the government has taken substantial steps to enhance VDCs in the district. This includes the inclusion of numerous new members in existing committees and the provision of Self Loading Rifles (SLRs) to several ex-servicemen, the officials said.