Srinagar: The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Tuesday issued fresh notices to Director General of Police (DGP), Deputy Commissioner Budgam and the army after they failed to submit reports about deaths that have occurred due to army’s littered explosive shells in areas around Tosmaidan firing range in Budgam.
“The Commission had asked them (DC, DGP and the army) to submit their factual reports before or on June 17 regarding the deaths that have occurred after Tosmaidan land was leased out to the army, but none of them submit(ted) their reports or appeared before the Commission. So we have sent fresh notices giving them another chance,” said SHRC’s acting chairman Rafiq Fida.
He said the SHRC had also sent notice to Tosmaidan Bachao Front (TBF)—a local NGO spearheading the agitation against extension of Tosmaidan meadow lease to the army—to appear and submit their report, but they appeared late before the Commission.
Tosmaidan, a 11, 200 hectare 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 army on lease without paying anything as rent to the state.
“We wanted an overall report regarding the deaths that have occurred in the area from all the concerned parties on which we could built a case and recommend action from the government. But with no party being present on Tuesday, we had to adjourn the hearing till July 17,” said Fida.
Taking suo-moto cognizance of the issue, the SHRC on May 21 had issued notices to DGP, J&K, DC Budgam and the army unit carrying drills in Tosmaidan and asked them to submit detailed factual reports in the matter. The notices were issued after a minor girl was killed and her minor crippled for life after a littered shell exploded near Tosmaidan firing range.
“Nobody is allowed to play with the lives of people in Kashmir like this. Army is a disciplined force which can never be expected to litter live shells like a trash of paper anywhere and particularly in the residential areas,” the SHRC had said.
The people of Budgam 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.
According to government records, the littered unexploded shells have cost 64 human lives and injuries to around 200 people during last 48 years.