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VDC member’s bid to contest election rejected.

Election authorities have rejected the nomination form submitted by a member of the state-backed village defence committee (VDC) for contesting the ongoing panchayat polls, citing that he had not deposited his weapon with police before filing nomination.

Official documents in possession  reveal that Bhushan Singh of Channi village in Udhampur had filed nomination papers. Bhushan is member of VDC, a militia created by state in 90s in Jammu region to fight militants. However, the concerned returning officer rejected his nomination form on the grounds of him being a member of VDC and for possession of a weapon. As per the directions issued by the state’s chief electoral officer in 2011, VDC members who don’t receive any honorarium from the government can take part in elections provided they deposit their weapons with the competent authority (station house officer concerned) before the date of filing nomination papers.

Later, Bhushan knocked the doors of CEO against rejection of his nomination, claiming that he had deposited weapon with the police.

The CEO, however, upheld the order passed by the returning officer, reasoning he had not deposited the weapon with the police before filing nomination papers. “It is noted that in the instant case, the receipt appended with as annexure with the appeal indicates that appellant had deposited his weapon with police post Mansar on November 12 as reflected from the date mentioned from the said receipt and the same date was the date of scrutiny of nomination for election to sarpanch and panch seat of halqapanchayatChanni block, Udhampur,” reads the order passed by CEO.

“In view of the above stated facts, the rejection of nomination of appellant Bhushan Singh has been made correctly, as such the grievance projected by the petitioner doesn’t sustain, hence rejected.” The VDCs were set up in 1995 when the state was under president’s rule for  “self-defence as well as supplementing efforts of the forces to curb militancy and cross-border infiltration”. In the past two decades, VDC members have been accused of committing excesses in Chenab and Pir Panchal regions of Jammu. In 2015, the state government had disclosed that 196 cases are registered against VDC personnel in different police stations of Jammu province.

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