Fresh wave of panic among minorities
Dr Jitendra speaks to Guv, calls for review
JAMMU, Dec 27: Governor Satya Pal Malik has called his Advisor, Incharge Home Department, K Vijay Kumar and Home Secretary RK Goyal and reportedly discussed with them the issue arising out of withdrawal of weapons from some of the Village Defence Committee members in Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban and other districts on the basis of an order issued by the Police Headquarters.
Following the Governor’s intervention, the State Government was mulling three options to overcome what has been developing as “crisis like situation” with minorities up in arms against the Government in Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban districts on the ground that militancy was reviving, which was evident from the killing of prominent BJP leader Anil Parihar and his brother Ajit Parihar and, on the other, the Government was withdrawing weapons from the VDCs.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the Governor, in whose notice the matter was brought by Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Dr Jitendra Singh, who represents Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha constituency, immediately called Advisor, Incharge Home, K Vijay Kumar and Principal Secretary, Home Department, RK Goyal and discussed the issue with them.
“Following the Governor’s intervention, the Government was now considering three options including increasing the age for withdrawal of weapons to 65 years, withdraw weapons from the VDC members, who have turned 60 but give the weapon to his family or immediate family members who were ready to become the VDC members or if both the conditions can’t be met with, give weapon to a new VDC member in the same area,” sources said.
Sources said the problem emerged after the Police Headquarters issued an order to all district police chiefs, wherever the VDCs exist, to withdraw weapons from all those VDC members, who had turned 60. The idea was that the VDC members of the age of 60 won’t be able to put up fight with the militants. However, in some of the areas, the SHOs started withdrawal of weapons from the VDC members, who had turned 60 or above without recruiting the new members.
Union Minister of State in the PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh told the Excelsior that he has spoken to the Governor on the issue of withdrawal of weapons and suggested him to either raise the age of VDC members from 60 to 65 or allot the same weapon within the family or immediate family members of those from whom it was being withdrawn.
“The Governor has reviewed the issue with his Advisor and the Home Secretary and hopefully the issue will be addressed very soon. The Governor has been very positive on the issue. He has assured that whatever was in the interest of the people of erstwhile Doda district will be done,” Dr Jitendra Singh, who has been pursuing the case of VDC members vigorously at both Centre and State levels, said.
Dr Jitendra Singh said that both Central and State Governments were fully with the VDC members. He added that it was Narendra Modi Government, which has increased honorarium of SPOs from Rs 3000 per month to Rs 12000 per month. One SPO is attached with every VDC and the amount is equally shared among them.
Asserting that militancy has been reviving in erstwhile Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban districts which was evident from the killing of BJP senior leader Anil Parihar and his brother Ajit Parihar, sources said the move to withdraw weapons from elderly VDC members, was fraught with dangerous consequences and has generated fresh wave of panic among the minorities living in three districts, who feel that they could be targeted by the militants once again like nineties.
“It was because of the VDCs that minorities stayed put in their houses in Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban districts and didn’t migrate like the minorities had to in the Kashmir valley. Any attempt to disarm the VDCs without suitable alternatives will be disastrous for us,” a number of members from the minorities said, calling upon the Government to immediately reverse the order.
They were of the view that they were living in remote areas, feeling safe and secure, because of the VDCs. The Government should strengthen and create more VDCs but none should be disarmed till he wants to give up on his own, they said. They, however, welcomed the Government order that the VDC members with criminal record, if any, should be disarmed but asserted that weapons shouldn’t be withdrawn from any other VDC member.
“The militancy has revived in Kishtwar and Doda. Parihar brothers have been killed, Thereafter, five to six militants, ISI agents and Over Ground Workers have been arrested. It’s time to strengthen the VDCs and not to demoralize them,” the people said and expressed hope that the Government would act wisely.