The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday has given a nod to the formation of Village Defence Groups (VDGs) in Jammu and Kashmir. The members of the Village Defence Groups will be designated as Village Defence Guards.

In more vulnerable areas, the order stated that persons (VI category) who shall be leading/ coordinating the VDG would be paid ₹4,500 per month and other persons (V2 category) who are members of these VDGs on a voluntary basis will be paid a uniform rate of ₹4,000 per month.

The Director-General of Police (DGP), Jammu and Kashmir, Dilbag Singh on Thursday said a need for re-organising and rejuvenating village defence committees (VDCs) was being mulled for long by the home ministry and termed VDC members as soldiers without uniform ‘indispensable’ in combating Pak-sponsored terrorism.

It may be stated here that during peak terrorism in the 1990s, 4,125 VDCs existed in J&K. The VDCs play a significant part in assisting the forces in counter-terrorism operations, maintaining vigil over inimical elements and assisting in maintaining peace.

Responding to media queries here on the sidelines of a cricket tournament, the DGP said the home minister took a keen interest in J&K youth, children and VDC members.

“Since long, it was being mulled by the home ministry to rejuvenate, strengthen and re-organise the VDCs, which had given their services for a long time fighting terrorism. It was being mulled to use their services in a better format,” he said.

He said that formally things have not been conveyed to J&K.

“However, it is important because militancy has declined, not ended and Pakistani agencies are still trying to revive terrorism in areas where peace has been restored. Police and security forces are on alert and every other day we fail their designs. This decision by the home ministry is in that direction ….to use available resources on the ground at the optimum and keep them well motivated and in a state of preparedness. They work as soldiers without uniform on the ground and it’s a good decision…it will further motivate people,” he said.

He said Pakistan was constantly trying to launch terror modules but had been exposed again and again.

Last year, 85 such modules were bust in the Kashmir and Jammu regions, he said.

He divulged that the arms, ammunition, IEDs and a chemical in liquid form that were dropped by a Pakistan drone in Jammu’s Arnia area on February 24 were meant to carry out attacks at religious places.

He also condemned the cowardly attack by terrorists on a panch in Kulgam on Monday evening.

“A Pakistan-sponsored group took the responsibility. It is shameful for them and their sponsors that a person, who was a representative of the people, was killed. We will identify the killers and eliminate them. The deceased panch was not an informer of security forces as being claimed by the terrorists,” he said.

To another query on assembly elections in the UT this year, he said, “The situation has improved a lot in the past two to four years. We feel it’s a good omen. The situation improved after a long time and with great effort. I can’t comment on elections, it’s the prerogative of the authorities concerned but we will further improve the situation and we are after those engineering terrorism here.”

“We have wiped them to a considerable extent and remaining will also be wiped out,” he added.