Jammu, village defence and governance
Polity & Governance
10th Feb, 2023
The revival of Village Defence Guards can be a feasible solution for the empowerment of local bodies as Panchayats are most suited to understand local dynamics in a conflict zone.
Increased terrorism in the Jammu region
- There have been several terror-related incidents in the region of the Jammu division over the last year.
- According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, there were infiltration attempts, recoveries of war-like stores, explosions followed by gunshots at the house of a local MLA, a neutralisation of hideouts, and the nabbing of suspects in Rajouri and Poonch of Jammu division.
Revival of Village Defence Committees (VDC):
- The government had issued instructions to operationalize VDC (Village Defence Guards) in August 2022, which have already played a crucial role in containing militancy in the Jammu division, after being set up in the mid-1990s.
- Pockets with a VDC presence were those in remote areas; their difficult terrain and a meagre presence of security forces made chances of successful operations remote.
Empowering Local Institutions for enhanced security in Jammu region:
- The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Panchayati Raj Act of 1989 amended in 2020 paved the way for the setting up of the District Development Council.
- This completed the three-tier local governance structure and reinforced the other two bodies, at the Panchayat and block levels.
- Panchayats are most suited to understanding local dynamics in a conflict zone that changes rapidly from one sub-region to the other.
- The compulsory functions of Panchayats could be entrusted with the task of assisting the local police in an institutionalised manner. This will create advantages such as expanding the stakeholdership of the local population in security matters and a quality check on the character of VDG cadres.