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Jammu villagers being trained to curb infiltration

Jammu, May 21 (Calcutta Tube) Police in Jammu and Kashmir’s Jammu region have decided to rope in residents of border villages to help in curbing infiltration of militants from Pakistan. The selected villagers are being provided arms training and will be authorised to shoot.

The first such training camp was held in Ranbirsinghpora area along the international border, 30 km west of Jammu Friday, where more than 100 villagers were trained on .303 rifles to target the infiltrators as and when they make an attempt to sneak into India across the international border.

Similar camps would be held in Hiranagar, Samba, Ramgarh and Akhnoor, a senior police official, who did not wish to be identified, told IANS.

‘It is being done to keep the vigil high in the border areas. The villagers know the terrain and they can easily distinguish between locals and outsiders,’ said the official, who is supervising the training, said.

The police chiefs of Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts are getting the villagers enrolled for the training. These villagers will be part of the village defence committees – a voluntary force of the villagers maintaining vigil round the clock and identifying the infiltrators. The committee members will get weapons and mobile phones and would be authorised to shoot the infiltrators.

‘They would be our civilian arm in maintaining vigil and checking infiltration,’ the police officer said, adding that sanction had been received from the government for at least 80 village defence committees, each having between 10 and 15 villagers.

Initially, the concept of village defence committees was initiated in the hilly districts like Rajouri, Doda and Udhampur to counter militant attacks in 1990s. Some of the committee members were successful in killing militants in the districts of Doda and Reasi.

The step comes after the 198-km long international border with Pakistan in Jammu plains witnessed several determined attempts by terrorists to sneak into India after breaching the barbed wire fence. The Border Security Force, that guards the international border, said that it had foiled more than a dozen infiltration attempts this year alone.

The villagers were quite enthusiastic about the training. ‘Infiltrators are enemies and it is our duty to help security forces in fighting them,’ 30-year-old Ujjagar Singh, who was among the 100-odd to receive the training Friday, told reporters.

‘We will form the first line of defence in our villages,’ he said.

The villagers said that police were helping them in use of weapons, as it was impossible to fight armed infiltrators without arms.

Police have also sought the help of villagers to maintain vigil during nights – the favourite time of infiltrators to attempt to sneak into Indian territory.

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