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J&K Village Defence Committees without wages for four years

VDCs were first set up in the mid-1990s in the Chenab Valley area of Jammu to arm and train villagers to defend against Pak-sponsored militants
Last Updated 11 June 2021, 06:13 IST

Once an important part of the anti-militancy grid in Jammu and Kashmir, Village Defence Committee (VDC) members reportedly have not been paid an honorarium for the last four years due to certain complications in the procedure for salary distribution.

The VDCs which were first set up in the mid-1990s in the Chenab Valley area of Jammu to arm and train villagers to defend against Pak-sponsored militants comprise villagers as well as Special Police Officers (SPOs).

As per the official figures, there are 4,125 VDCs in the Union Territory (UT) and the Army trains them from time to time in weapons-handling and intelligence-gathering skills. The members of these committees not only guard the identified villages along the border, but also the infrastructural installations in and around them.

There are five members in a VDC and two of its members, which are called SPOs, are getting wages at the rate of Rs 18,000 per month, but the VDC component of VDCs have not been paid any wages in the last four years, a local English daily reported.

Quoting unknown sources, the daily reported that after the online system of salary payment was started in 2017, an honorarium was deposited in the account of the SPOs of every VDC who were earlier collecting the amount from the police station concerned.

As the amount was deposited in the account of VDC SPOs, they refused to pay the same to other members on the plea that the money has been deposited in their account, hence they can’t distribute the same among other members of the VDC, it added.

This has created an awkward situation for the other members of the VDCs who since then are running from pillar to post for getting their wages released but to no avail. The VDC members have held protests several times to draw the attention of the authorities to their pleas.

In 2020, during one protest rally in Jammu, they had even threatened to surrender their weapons in respective districts with police lines “if the government failed to release their wages.”

In 2015, the police department had decided to disengage the VDCs at the age of 60, but later on the intervention of Union Minister Jitendra Singh, who is also MP of Kathua–Doda Parliamentary constituency, it was kept in abeyance.

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(Published 11 June 2021, 06:13 IST)

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