By: Ahmed Ali Fayyaz/IANS
Srinagar: Even as hundreds of ex-servicemen acting as Village Defence Guards (VDGs) are being equipped with automatic weapons for the first time since the creation of Village Defence Committees (VDCs) in the Pir Panjal and Chenab Mountain ranges, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday reviewed the situation in the wake of terror attacks in Rajouri with senior BJP leaders from Jammu.
Shah assured the BJP leaders at the meeting in New Delhi that the VDCs in Jammu would be refurbished to ensure the protection of the minority communities. While Self Loading Rifles (SLRs) were being provided to the trained ex-servicemen, other VDGs would be trained in use of the automatic weapons by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
Home Minister Shah convened the meeting with his party colleagues in the wake of the twin attacks which killed seven members of the minority community and left 11 more injured with the beginning of the new year.
On Monday, the process of providing training and automatic weapons to the VDCs began with distribution of SLRs among the ex-servicemen at Dhangri. During his recent visit to the village, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha had assured the residents that the VDCs would be refurbished with new capacity building and sophisticated arms. They have been complaining that before the carnage in Rajouri, VDCs in the area had been made virtually defunct and even the conventional .303 rifles had been taken away from the guards.
Around 40 ex-servicemen living in the area and identified by a Panchayat-level committee were given SLRs along with 100 bullets each at the camp at Dhangri on Monday.
According to the BJP leaders present in the meeting on Monday evening, the Home Minister asserted that any conspiracy to flare up terror in twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch would be foiled, and the security and intelligence grids would be strengthened with deployment of additional troops in the sensitive areas.
Twenty companies of CRPF with 2000 personnel have been deployed in the border district of Rajouri after the carnage at Dhangri to ensure protection of the minorities.
“Every challenge thrown by the forces who want to disturb peace in Jammu and Kashmir will be met with effectively. All conspiracies to derail peace process will be thwarted. No one will be allowed to disturb peace in Rajouri and Poonch districts besides other parts of Jammu region,” a BJP leader quoted Shah as saying in the 90-minute long meeting.
Shah, according to sources, assured his party guests that stringent action would be taken if it was established in the ongoing inquiry that the police didn’t visit the site of the carnage for over 12 hours. An inquiry is currently underway to find how two children died and several others sustained injuries in the explosion of an IED that had been planted under a container inside a house targeted a night before.
Shah assured the BJP leaders that the terrorists involved in the twin attacks would be tracked down and brought to justice very soon as a wide search operation in Rajouri and the adjoining Reasi and Poonch districts was in progress. He told them that security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, especially in Rajouri and Poonch districts, was being monitored regularly by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
The BJP leaders also took up the issue of Kashmiri Pandit employees engaged under Prime Minister’s package and Reserved Category employees posted in the Valley with the Home Minister. He assured them that the issue would be discussed threadbare with the UT Government and the salaries of the off-duty staff would be released.
Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Lok Sabha member from Kathua-Doda-Udhampur, Dr Jitendra Singh, BJP general secretary Incharge J&K, Tarun Chug, President of the party’s J&K unit, Ravinder Raina, senior party leader Devinder Singh Rana, two former Deputy Chief Ministers, Dr Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta, and some former MLAs participated in the meeting.