Arms & the woman: Jammu mother joins Village Defence Guards after terror attack read full article at

Rekha Sharma, 47, a resident of Upper Dangri village in Jammu, has picked up the gun to fight militants as one of the Village Defence Guards, a group of local volunteers being trained to counter terror attacks in their area.

“Like the queen of Jhansi Lakshmibai, who fought against British till her last breath, we, the women of Dangri, will also fight Pakistan-sponsored terrorism,” she said. “They (militants) have spilled blood in my home, my village and my mother land…We will avenge this massacre,” said the mother of three who has a Masters and B.Ed. degree from Jammu University.

Rekha said she decided to pick up the gun because she could not bear the wails of a widow in her neighbourhood who lost both her sons in the back-to-back terror attacks on the village on Janaury 1 and 2 this year.

The neighbour, Suraj Devi, lost her husband some years ago, but ensured good education to both her children — Deepak Sharma and Prince Sharma — with whatever resources she had. Both the children had M.Sc. degree in mathematics, said Rekha.

Prince had got a job in Jal Shakti Department in place of his father on compassionate ground. Deepak got appointed to Army’s Field Ordinance Depot in Ladakh but he was killed a week before he was scheduled to join duty. Prince, who was injured in terror attack, succumbed to his injuries a few days later.

“You cannot imaging the pain of a woman whose both children were killed in front of her eyes. I could not hear her screams,” said Rekha. She said Suraj’s condition made her think if she had a weapon and she knew how to fire it, maybe the militants would not have been able to escape from the spot.

“She could not do anything as she had no knowledge of how to handle a gun,” said Rekha, adding that it prompted her to train to defend her family and others as well. Rekha’s husband Randhir Kumar Sharma is a businessman. Her eldest son after completing his graduation is doing business, while her daughter is pursuing M.Sc. from Jammu University and the youngest son is in class IX.

Hailing from Delhi, she was married to Randhir in Dangri in 1997 when militancy was in its last phase in Jammu and Kashmir. After the killing of nearly half-a-dozen people by militants at a marriage function in nearby Bal Jarala village in 1999, her husband who was then a Village Defence Committee (VDC) member, had taught her how to handle a gun.

“After peace returned, people forgot about VDCs and put their weapons in their trunks (iron boxes),” she said, adding that her husband too surrendered his gun. There was no fear among the people and everybody was moving freely even during late night, she said.

However, the demand for weapons is rising again after the killing of seven civilians, including Deepak and Prince, in the recent terrror attacks, said Rekha. “I will persuade other women in the village too to pick up arms and get themselves trained to fight the militants,’’ she said.

Following the terror attacks in Upper Dangri village, J&K Lieutenant-Governor  Manoj Sinha assured the villagers to set up Doda-type Village Defence Committees, which has been renamed as Village Defence Guards.

Unlike VDCs, where only the SPOs were paid a monthly remuneration of Rs 1,500, every VDG will get Rs 4,000 per month. The one leading the VDGs will be paid Rs 4,500 a month, sources said, adding that the authorities are also planning to provide semi-automatic weapons like SLRs to ex-servicemen who register themselves as VDGs.

Rekha’s father, late Krishan Lal, was in Delhi Police, while her father-in-law, late Mela Ram, was in Jammu and Kashmir Police. His last posting was as an SHO in Rajouri’s Budhal area.

She thanked her husband and her late father-in-law for supporting her in all walks of life.

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