Curfew eased in parts of Jammu, Rajouri
Amidst the backdrop of growing clamour in the state for disbanding the village defence committees (VDCs), that were set up in 1990s to resist the militancy, Union minister Farooq Abdullah reportedly told the Cabinet that many VDCs comprised "communal" elements. When the VDCs were set up, the affiliations and antecedents of the members were not verified, Abdullah reportedly told the Cabinet and called for taking corrective measures, once the normalcy returns to the area.
Given that there are thousands of VDCs that are heavily armed, the state administration and the Centre have been anxious about the implications of any flare up in the situation.
On Tuesday, J&K Congress president Saifuddin Soz demanded a review and re-examination of the role of the VDCs while maintaining that it was his personal opinion. "I would only say that before the days of militancy, Kishtwar region was an example of communal amity and harmony. Militancy caused disruptions and VDCs were formed. There have been allegations that some of these VDCs are close to the BJP. The institution of the VDC should be reviewed and re-examined. But it is my personal opinion because my party is still assessing the situation," he told The Indian Express.
The Cabinet was informed that about a fortnight before the communal riots hit Kishtwar, two men riding on a motorcycle were beaten up when they brushed past a marriage procession of another community. In subsequent days, there were incidents of firing involving some VDCs. On Eid, there was a similar incident involving motorcyclists that led to the flare up.
Intelligence agencies reportedly informed the government that Bajrang Dal was involved in stoking communal passion during this period.