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Gov't Offer Arms Training to Jammu Villagers Amid Increased Militant Attacks

© AP Photo / Channi AnandAn Indian paramilitary soldier keeps guard during a gunfight at Nagrota on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022.
An Indian paramilitary soldier keeps guard during a gunfight at Nagrota on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022. - Sputnik India, 1920, 10.01.2023
Seven were killed in the Jammu region in the latest attack on January 1, prompting federal authorities to form armed groups of civilians to protect local villages.
India's central government has started providing local villagers with weapons and arms training to combat a spike in militancy in the Jammu region in which civilians are frequently targeted,
The move, intended to boost the fighting capabilities of the Village Defence Guards (VDG) groups, includes providing weapons to eligible members and training younger ones living along the Line of Control (LoC) -- the contact line between India and Pakistan.
These people include residents of Dangri village, where seven civilians, including two children, were killed in a major militant strike on January 1.

According to senior government officials, while the weapons have been provided by the Jammu and Kashmir Police, the federal paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has launched a weapon training program for civilians.

VDGs, earlier known as Village Defence Councils, were originally set up in Jammu region amid an anti-India insurgency in 1995.
However, the council’s role eventually diminished after the insurgency in Jammu declined. Subsequently, most of the 25,000 VDG members were eventually disarmed.

Who Are Village Defence Guards Now?

Rameshwar Singh, a member of the District Development Council (DDC), an elected body representative of rural areas, said CRPF troopers have begun visiting villages to provide arms training to local residents and provided weapons, including semi-automatic rifles.
“Ex-servicemen have been provided with semi-automatic rifles, while commoners have been provided with .303 rifles," he said.

"Mostly people under 60 years of age are being trained. But if anyone above 60 is deemed fit enough, they are also being given weapons,” Singh told Sputnik. A VDG body usually has around 10-15 members, but Singh said he would like this number to be increased to 20 in each village.

A senior police official also told Sputnik that a special camp was organized in Rajouri District on Tuesday in which 100 weapons were provided to 100 VDGs, of which 40 were ex-servicemen. The ex-servicemen were provided with INSAS rifles while another 60 VDGs were given .303 rifles.

Latest Militant Attack Kills Seven in Jammu

According to a local police official, around 50 people have been detained so far for questioning in connection with the January 1 militant attack.
Two suspected militants entered Dangri village and shot at least ten people, of which four succumbed to their injuries the same day. On the following day, as police were probing the killings and mourners gathered at the victims’ residences, a bomb went off injuring several and killing two children. One more victim succumbed to injuries last week.