New Delhi: On the 76 Independence Day, the Jammu and Kashmir government has announced the creation of the Village Defence Guards Scheme (VDGS)-2022 to “prevent the incidents of terrorist acts inspired and supported from across the border and to boost the security grid in the Union Territory.”
According to the Greater Kashmir newspaper, the scheme has come into operation with effect from August 15, 2022 and will have prospective effect. As per an order issued by the Financial Commissioner (Additional Chief Secretary) Home Raj Kumar Goyal, the sanction to the creation of this scheme has been accorded in pursuance of the approval conveyed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India vide referred communication and in supersession of the Government Order No.Home-293 of 1995, dated September 30, 1995.
The aim of the Village Defence Guards Scheme (VDGs) is to organize a small group of volunteer armed civilians in the villages along the borders as well as in-depth areas of the Jammu division, with a view to instil a sense of self-protection and ensure the safety and security of such villages, infrastructural installations in and around them and to check the transborder movement. Under the Scheme, the Village Defence Guards would be charged with the responsibility of protecting community installations and infrastructure facilities within the defined areas of their village and the Village Defence Guards would conduct night and day patrolling systematically.
Under the revised scheme, the areas or villages, where the earlier Scheme was in operation will be considered as “more vulnerable areas” for the purpose of the Scheme and the arrangements made pursuant to the earlier scheme will now be governed by the instant Scheme.
“Apart from these areas or villages, any other area or village, which may be considered as “more vulnerable area” by the law enforcement agencies, necessitating application of the Scheme to such other area or village, the government in the Home Department shall by an order declare such area or village as a “more vulnerable area” for the purpose of the instant Scheme,” the order mentioned.
It stated that based on the assessment made by the law enforcement agencies, a group of armed civilians belonging to the “more vulnerable areas”, not more than 15 in number in each group, who would be designated as “Village Defence Guards” (VDGs) would be formed.
As per the order, the VDGs will consist of two categories viz., those in possession of a valid arms licence and to whom weapons have been provided by the J&K Police, determined by the District Magistrate or Senior Superintendent of Police concerned, keeping in view the credentials, of the volunteers’ population of the village, its location and security requirement and secondly, the persons in possession of valid licence and weapons or willing to purchase weapons on their own.
Each group will be called the “Village Defence Group” and will be headed by a retired officer of the Army, CPMF or J&K Police.
The members of each group will work on a voluntary basis and the selection will be made carefully by the district administration, from amongst the ex-servicemen and ex-policemen of the village and able-bodied young men, who have proficiency in the handling of arms, ammunition and are prepared to contribute towards the welfare of the community and security of the village.
In early 1990s Village Defence Committees were formed which functioned mostly in Jammu hilly areas but slowly were abundant.