SRINAGAR: The Tosamaidan Bachao Front(TBF) spearheading the movement to end the lease of Tosamaidan meadow to Army for artillery exercises has threatened to hold a protest demonstration outside Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s residence if he does not issue a formal order on the issue.
In a meeting held Wednesday, TBF has decided to meet the CM personally for a written order confirming the end of the Tosamaidan lease to Army.
TBF has set up a committee to seek appointment with the CM following which its designated members will hold a meeting with Omar.
“The government hasn’t extended the lease, but there hasn’t been a formal order saying that lease would not be extended. Since government is silent, we have decided to go and meet the CM to ask him for the formal order,” chairman TBF Dr Sheikh Ghulam Rasool told Kashmir Reader after the meeting.
“The CM didn’t give us an appointment last time we tried to meet him. So we have formed a short committee to seek appointment with him. And if he denies it again, we will stage a march to his residence this time,” Dr Rasool added.
Tosmaidan, 11, 200 hectare of meadow in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, has been serving as a firing range to the Indian army since 1964. The land is being used by the force on lease without paying anything as rent to the state.
The people of Budgam, joined later by the general populace of the Valley, have been opposing any extension in the lease period that expired on April 18 while the army has formally asked for extension in the lease.
The tussle forced the state government to set up a committee for reviewing the lease. However, the committee headed by Chief Secretary Mohammad Iqbal Khanday is yet to arrive at a decision. In its last meeting, the committee tasked the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Shailendra Kumar to find an alternative site to be offered to the army as firing range.
Wednesday’s meeting was called by TBF to discuss its future protest plan in view of the government’s silence over the matter.
“Besides meeting the CM, our protest and rallies will continue. After having a response from the CM, we will meet again and give a fresh protest call, which may also include boycott of the upcoming parliamentary polls,” Rasool said.