JAMMU: Terming as completely baseless reports appearing in a section of press on September 4 alleging that Muslim population of Paddar in Kishtwar district was being threatened by Village Defence Committees (VDCs), BJP national executive member and J&K chief spokesperson Dr Jitendra Singh said such reports are being deliberately planted by those who want to get the VDCs disbanded by tainting them in a certain communal colour in the wake of August 9 riots against minority community in Kishtwar town. He said it is a false propaganda that only members of a particular community had been recruited as VDCs. Citing the case of VDCs in Poonch district, for example, he recalled that in July 2003,a Muslim VDC led by Fazl Hussain had helped the Army destroy the biggest militant hideout in the famous Hill Kaka bowl in the mountains of Surankote killing at least 150 foreign militants in the operation. In another case, he said, in June 2004, a militant attack was repulsed by a woman VDC by the name Khatoon Begum, who had learned from her son how to handle a 303 Rifle. Although Khatoon Begum died in the attack, her act helped save at least a dozen members of her family from the terrorists, he added.
Putting the record straight, Dr Jitendra Singh said, the VDCs were set up in Jammu and Kashmir in mid-nineties following a number of massacres of the innocent inhabitants in far-flung villages. As there were no police or army pickets near these inaccessible villages, the security forces provided military training to locals, and equipped them with weapons and wireless sets to counter militant attacks, he explained.
Dr Jitendra Singh asserted, it is none other than the National Conference (NC) which has been the greatest beneficiary of VDCs that had helped contain militancy in the tumultous 90s thus paving the way for Farooq Abdullah to take over as chief minister in 1996 after a protracted spell of Governor rule. If only the VDCs had not continued to play their monumental role, the Farooq government would have found it difficult to sustain itself, he said and also pointed out that the decision to form VDCs was taken when there was Congress government at the Center.