Village Defence Force takes up on Arms-down strike

Imphal: Village Defence Force (VDF) personnel taking up ‘Arms-down’ strike staged protest rally in different parts of Imphal West district on Friday.

The VDF personnel cautioned to take up intensive forms of agitation if the state government fails to take a decision to increase remuneration and service regularisation by July 30.

The village defence force launched its Arms-down strike on July 16 reacting against government’s failure to respond to their demands. The VDF welfare association submitted a memorandum to chief minister on July 7 asking to respond to its demands by July 15.

The strike was launched following a decision taken by committees of 16 districts on July 16 as the government failed to respond, the VDF welfare association said.

The association complained that the VDF personnel have been engaged as a force multiplier and assistance to the local police in the maintenance of law and orders duty and in intelligence duties since the last 12 years under the Manipur Police department like other state security forces.

The present rate of remuneration for a VDF member is only Rs. 7,500 and it is difficult to maintain family needs, the welfare association said. It urged the government to consider suitable increase in the monthly remuneration.

The government must consider grant of 13 months pay and washing allowances to the VDF personnel for not relaxing the duty of Sunday and general holidays, it said. It also demanded service regularisation.

The first recruitment rally was organised in March 2009 in four valley districts – Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal and Bishnupur to voluntarily defend villages from militant attacks. Initially, an honorarium of Rs. 3,000, along with Rs. 570 as ration money, was provided to the personnel each month. It has been gradually increased to Rs. 7,500 after a series of protest demanding for increment in their remuneration.

A VDF personnel said the state cabinet had on April 20 approved increment of the honorarium to Rs. 9,500 plus ration money of Rs. 2,000, but it has not been materialised yet.

VDF personnel posted in Kakching district staged protest rally.

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