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Resurgent Civil Militias in Kashmir are Causing Anxiety

With the repeal of Articles 370 and 35 A, the Indian government is reactivating a civilian militia in the Jammu region known as the Village Defence Guards (VDGs). India has begun arming locals in Jammu to combat terrorists who wear VDG uniforms. Hindu and Sikh groups have called for the reintroduction of VDGs after they were established in 1990 and later abolished in the 2000s when Indian forces failed to keep the region under control. The Indian government defends arming citizens in Kashmir as a policy to protect people in dangerous environments. A VDG member receives a monthly salary of 4,500–4,750 rupees. The Kashmiri Muslims are targeted, intimidated, tracked, and killed by the VDGs, a network of "civilians" chosen and trained by the Indian government, in order to stifle the freedom movement.

Yet, the local populace does not feel secure as a result of this action and believes that civilians should not be granted access to guns since they may abuse them. Because to their prior VDG experiences, the local Kashmiris are also terrified. According to official records, at least 221 cases involving VDGs members were filed in the 1990s. 15 of these cases featured riots, and there were close to two dozen cases involving murder and rape. India is silencing Muslim voices by seizing the properties of Muslim leaders through press methods. According to a recent New York Times article, the Indian government felt compelled to arm thousands of civilians in one of the most militarised regions of the world. This demonstrates the government's forceful approach to controlling IIOJK.

Yet, the establishment of these organisations would also heighten hostilities between Hindu and Muslim people in these regions, particularly when Hindu populations are armed and encouraged to perpetrate atrocities against Muslims and breaches of human rights.

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