Tosmaidan row: Protesters threaten sit-in near firing range

SRINAGAR: Reiterating their demand for shifting of the Army firing range from Tosmaidan in central Kashmir Budgam district, Tosmaidan Bachao Front, J & K RTI Movement, Local Sarpanch Association and J&K Rural Voice on Thursday said the panel constituted by the government shall have face-to-face interaction with the people. They also threatened that people from 52 villages of the area will launch a sit-in near the firing range if the lease is extended to the Army.
“We demand that there shall not be further extension to the lease agreement in favor Artillery unit of the Indian Army; the firing range from Tosmaidan, shall be completely shifted to other location to avoid further human, environmental, economic and educational losses; and the members of the government committee shall have a face to face interaction with the local people,” a statement issued here said quoting the memorandum submitted by a joint delegation of the four groups to the Deputy Commissioner Budgam.
Tosmaidan is a high-altitude meadow leased to the Indian Army for artillery training. The shelling in the area has resulted in killing of 63 civilians, besides causing environmental and economic losses to the areas.
“It is very unfortunate on part of the state government that despite announcing the formulation of high level panel for reviewing Tosmaidan lease to Indian Army, not a single activity and progress was made in the past three months. It seems the state government only makes mere announcements,” Dr Sheikh Ghulam Rasool, chairman J & K RTI Movement, said.
The associations have threatened to hold a sit-in at firing range in case the lease was extended.
“If the lease agreement is extended to the Army for firing purposes, all the people from 52 villages of this area will have a sit-in at the place of shelling. We demand complete shifting of this firing range from the government and we will continue our fight till Tosmaidan is vacated,” general secretary of Tosmaidan Bachao Front, Molvi Maqbool, said.
“All the Panchayat members of this area will resign if lease agreement is extended in favor of Army,” chairman Panchayat Association, Master Maqbool, said.