Separatists in Kashmir on Sunday raised their pitch against the armed village defence committees (VDCs) and accused them of “organised crimes against one community in Jammu region”.
“VDCs are the root cause of all problems. Its members are responsible for killing, rape, arson, extortion and the present turmoil,” alleged hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
The 83-year-old separatist leader alleged that “elements for vote-bank politics are hell bent to sow seeds of communalism and attempt is being to malign Kashmir’s struggle.”
“India and its agencies are trying to portray present freedom struggle as a sectarian strife,” said Geelani, while asking all to maintain communal harmony.
Jammu region’s Kishtwar district is marred by sectarian clashes for the past three days, leaving two dead and several injured. Around 70 structures are burnt down in arson.
Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also attacked the mainstream political parties for the current situation.
“Kishtwar is a result of ruthless Machiavellian politics played out by mischievous mainstream parties for electoral gains and appeasement of their masters and agencies to stay in power,” said Farooq.
Accusing armed special police officers and VDCs of unleashing terror against a particular community, Mirwaiz said, “Despite repeated incidents of repression, the government chose not to disband and disarm the notorious and communal VDCs.”
Farooq appealed to the Hindu community not to allow political parties to use them for their political ambitions.
VDCs were established in Jammu region at the peak of militancy to safeguard interests of people residing in hilly areas.
“VDCs are Army without uniform. Disarming of these committees is needed to prevent them from turning into renegades,” Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Muhammad Yasin Malik.
Malik has decided to take out a peace march from on Monday in Srinagar to send a peace message in wake of violence in Jammu division.
He alleged “both the Congress and the BJP were deriving political mileage out of it”.
“Some unscrupulous and dividing elements were trying to craft a criminalized tribal society here,” he alleged.