SRINAGAR: The army has said that it cannot disclose the location of “a couple places” it is now using as artillery firing practice ranges after public resentment and state government’s refusal to renew lease forced it to vacate the Tosamaidan meadow it had been using for the past 50 years.
After the army’s 50-year lease expired, the previous government refused to renew it and decided to develop the scenic spot as a tourist destination. Media reports about a proposal to provide the army an alternate firing range in the vicinity of famed tourist spot of Yusmarg had sparked protests in that area.
While the government had announced it will provide an alternate site for the army—Tosamaidan was vacated in April this year—officials were reluctant to name places, fearing similar protests. It appears the government has silently allotted a place to the army to avoid controversy.
“I am not in a position to disclose the (location of) new firing practice ranges. It is confidential,” said defence spokesman RN Joshi.
Divisional commissioner Kashmir Asghar Samoon told Kashmir Reader that his office was not involved in the issue right now.
“It is army’s internal matter. I can’t interfere,” he said.
As many as 65 local residents of Tosamaidan had died in explosions caused by littered artillery shells in the past 50 years, while hundreds had been maimed.
According to Samoon, it “will take time to clear the meadow of potentially dangerous un-exploded artillery shells”.