SRINAGAR Describing the reported plans of the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration to arm civilians in the sensitive Chenab Valley as “alarming”, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti Saturday warned the move would have “dangerous consequences”.
She said similar experiments of arming civilians under the anti-militancy grid in the 1990s had led to complete chaos and the wounds inflicted upon the general masses were still fresh.
“Reports about the administration trying to arm civilians under the garb of creating Village Defence Committees (VDC) in Chenab Valley are disturbing and alarming especially at the time when the government has to be inclusive to avoid further alienation of youth across the state,” the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief said in a statement here.
“In communally sensitive areas like Chenab Valley, the plans are fraught with only dangerous consequences. The union government recently had planned to wind up all such defence committees. But suddenly, taking a U-turn, not only such committees are being strengthened but even fresh arms are being issued (and) that too to the people with a particular political ideology,” Mehbooba added.
The VDCs were setup in the mid-1990s with an aim to strengthen the security of those living in remote and mountainous areas of Doda, Kishtwar, Ramba, Rajouri, Reasi, Kathua and Poonch districts of the region.
The members of these committees not only guard the identified villages along the border, but also the infrastructural installations in and around them.
Mehbooba also condemned the registration of a “false and frivolous” FIR against PDP leaders, including former legislator and senior leader Firdous Tak and youth district president Kishtwar Wasil Doolwal, for seeking immediate rollback of the plans.
“The party leaders have represented the sentiments and aspirations of the people but it seems that the local administration are working under pressure from a particular political organisation. The registration of the case only speaks about the sorry state of affairs in Chenab Valley,” the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said.
Mehbooba demanded immediate withdrawal of the FIR.