Ansar and Village Defence Party (Ansar and VDP) (Bangladesh)

Country: Bangladesh
Details of Formation: The Ansar had previously been formed as “East Pakistan Ansars” in 1948 but joined the Mukti Bahini guerillas during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 against the Pakistani army. After independence they were given fresh importance by President Ziaur Rahman’s government, who designated Ansar as the “people’s defence force” (Wikipedia Ansar). The Village Defence Party system was created by President Ziaur Rahman in 1976 (Wikipedia Village Defence Party), and in the same year more Ansar groups were formed (Wikipedia Ansar).
Details of Termination: --
Purpose: The main purpose of the PGM is to ensure domestic security and law enforcement (Wikipedia Ansar; Wikipedia Village Defence Party). Their relative advantages are that they assist police and can be mobilized in case of war (Wikipedia Ansar), and that they can spread to parts where the presence of the regular force is weak.
Organisation: The PGM is administered by the Ministry of Home Affairs (Wikipedia Ansar/Wikipedia Village Defence Party). The PGM is headed by a director general (currently Major General Chowdhury Hasan Sarwardy, a former director of military intelligence of the Bangladesh Army) who heads the Ansar as well as the Village Defence Party (Wikipedia Village Defence Party).
Weapons and Training: The PGM is allegedly armed with staves and wicker shields. They are trained under supervision of the local authorities.
Size: In 1988, the VDP scheme had around 10 million members (Wikipedia Village Defence Party). A news source of 1995 mentions 4.5 million members. The Ansars currently are estimated to have around 5.8 million members (Wikipedia Ansar) and the VDP to have around 5.6 million (Wikipedia Village Defence Party).
Reason for Membership: Members are part of the National Pay Scale and receive family rations (Wikipedia Ansar). Most members are recruited from poor farmers and artisans. Members were reported to have died in just one occasion, but there are many news sources speaking of members getting injured.
Treatment of Civilians: The Ansar and Village Defence Party tortured and killed civilians (Amnesty 1992) and were involved in a forced disappearance. This disappearance was committed together with a commander of an army camp (Human Rights Watch 2009). A news source reports that the VDP were beating robbers they had caught.
Other Information: The PGM is broadly organized in Bangladesh. There is also an urban version, which is called Town Defence Party (Wikipedia Village Defence Party). Although Ansar and VDP are slightly different groups, they seem to be combined under the Ministry of Home Affair’s Ansar and VDP Directorate (Human Rights Watch 2009).
References: Amnesty International. 1992. “£BANGLADESH @Reprisal killings in Logong, Chittagong Hill Tracts, in April 1992.” AI Index: ASA 13/04/92. May.

Human Rights Watch. 2009. “Ignoring Executions and Torture. Impunity for Bangladesh’s Security Forces.” ISBN: 1-56432-483-4

Wikipedia. “Bangladesh Ansar”.

Wikipedia. “Village Defence Party”.