From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Village Defence Guards (VDGs)
Mains level : Terrorism, insurgency and Border security challenge
- The revival of the Village Defence Committees (VDCs), albeit with a new name, Village Defence Guards (VDG), in the Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu division has been viewed with suspicion. Sceptics doubt the prospects of its success in combating terrorism, which has raised its head in the region after a prolonged lull.
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What are Village Defence Committees (VDCs)?
- Raised in 1990s: Raised initially in the mid-1990s to take on terrorists, the VDCs had instilled a sense of security among the people.
- To retaliate terrorists: Able-bodied men and ex-service personnel were roped into these committees to retaliate whenever terrorists ventured into the villages.
- Successful experiment: The experiment was successful, going by the decline in terrorist activities in the Rajouri and Poonch sectors.
What are Village Defence Guards (VDG)
- Village Defence Guards (VDGs) are a similar concept to Village Defence Committees (VDCs),
- The VDGs play a crucial role in maintaining security in rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir,
- They are responsible for providing intelligence to the security forces and help in counter-insurgency operations.
- They are also armed and trained by the Indian Government.
How VDG’s are developed?
- CRPF trains VDG’s: The CRPF has been tasked to train the VDGs in the use of automatic weapons,
- J&K police plays a crucial role: though the Jammu and Kashmir police is playing a pivotal role in organising the VDGs into a formidable force to combat terrorists.
- Need a plan strategy: These VDGs need to have a planned strategy to take on the terrorists lest they be caught unawares in the event of an attack, leading to chaos.
The similar experiments in other areas
- Village Volunteer Force (VVF) in Manipur: At the peak of insurgency in Manipur, the Village Volunteer Force (VVF) proved to be an asset. Comprising largely of surrendered militants, the armed VVF personnel not only took on the militants operating in their areas but were of immense help in collecting intelligence. These forces, though, were headed by officers drawn on deputation from the CRPF and the BSF as Liaison Officers and Area Organisers.
- Salwa Judum In chattisgarh area: The Salwa Judum, a civilian force in Chhattisgarh to combat Maoists, was raised by a prominent Congress leader Mahendra Karma in June 2005. Supported by the state government, as many as 23 Salwa Judum camps were established in the Bastar and Dantewada districts.
- Similar civilian force in Jharkhad and Telangana: The initial series of successes in pinning down the Maoists prompted other states like Jharkhand and Telangana to raise similar militias to counter the Maoist menace.
- Brave villagers of Punjab: When Punjab was in the grip of militancy in the 1980s and early 1990s, certain villagers were given weapons to retaliate and the experiment turned out to be successful. They were brave enough to counter the militants for hours and successfully repulsed their attacks. Some of them, including women, went on to be honoured with the prestigious Shaurya Chakra and Kirti Chakra for thwarting the attacks by militants.
Importance of reactivated VDG’s
- Sense of Security and confidence in the villages: The reactivation of the VDGs would go a long way in instilling a sense of security and confidence in the villagers.
- Deterrence and resistance to terrorists: VDG’s also serve as a deterrent to the terrorists who would expect stiff resistance if they ever ventured to attack the villagers.
- Valuable assets: Apart from the VDGs being largely ex-servicemen, their being armed with automatic weapons, coupled with training, will be an asset in taking on terrorists.
- Source of Intelligence: Additionally, they could serve as sources for the collection of intelligence. With the additional deployment of the CRPF, the response time for the security forces to rush to trouble spots would be drastically reduced.
Concerns: The Case of Salwa Judum
- The popularity the Salwa Judum had gained did not last for too long.
- Repeated complaints of human rights violations by the volunteers, of beating up people and even raping tribal women, resulted in a case being filed in the Supreme Court.
- On July 5, 2011, the Supreme Court declared Salwa Judum illegal and unconstitutional and ordered its disbandment.
- It would be in the interest of the denizens of the Poonch and Rajouri districts to strengthen the VDGs and provide them with all logistical and training support on a long-term basis as a force multiplier rather than dismantling them after complete normalcy is restored. The proximity to the 120-km stretch of the Line of Control along Pakistan-occupied Kashmir warrants a permanent security blanket for all villages in the region, what with Pakistan always being up to some mischief.
Q. What is Village Defence Guards (VDG)? What necessitates such a civilian force? Provide examples of similar forces established from time to time in India.
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