Rajouri/Jammu: More than a week after a major terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri, authorities on Monday handed over self-loading rifles (SLRs) to the ex-servicemen acting as village defence guards (VDGs) in Dhangri village, officials said.
This is for the first time that the VDGs, who were earlier known as Village Defence Committee (VDC) members, were given sophisticated rifles anywhere in the Jammu region, where they play a pivotal role in rooting out terrorism by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with police and other security agencies.
Earlier, the VDCs were only equipped with .303 rifles. There were demands for replacing the outdated rifles with sophisticated weapons to tackle the threat of terrorism more effectively.
Seven people, including two children, were killed and 14 injured when the terrorists attacked the village earlier this month.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police held a special camp in Dhangri on Monday. It was attended by Rajouri Deputy Commissioner Vikas Kundal and Senior Superintendent of Police Mohammad Aslam, among others.
Around 40 ex-servicemen living in the area and identified by a panchayat-level committee were given SLRs along with 100 bullets each at the camp, the officials said, adding that most of these ex-servicemen had served in the Army and volunteered themselves to act as VDGs.
“We are thankful to the district administration for giving us the SLRs, which have a better firing range, and giving us an opportunity to serve as VDGs,” ex-serviceman Roshan Lal said.
He said all the VDGs, especially the ex-servicemen, are ready to work in coordination with the security forces to counter terrorists.
Sarpanch of Dhangri Dheeraj Sharma thanked Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s administration for fulfilling their demand.
He said during his visit to the village after the terror attack, Sinha had promised to provide new weapons.
“Our demand is fulfilled…. Although the number of weapons is less than what was projected, we are still thankful. We expect that more weapons will be provided in the coming times,” Sharma said.