Anantnag: Hundreds of locals, majority of them youths, reached the Anantnag Deputy Commissioner’s (DC’s) office Thursday afternoon to protest against the army’s move to occupy a playground for setting up camp in Shamsipora village of Anantnag district here.
Early on Thursday morning, more than a dozen army vehicles reached the playground and started taking measurements of the land. Locals told Kashmir Reader that some youths who had gone to the ground to play a game of cricket were asked to leave.
“The army men threatened the children, as well as some elders of the village, if any one ventured near the field,” the locals alleged. They said the army soldiers told them to go talk to the Deputy Commissioner and not bother them.
“We have come to ask the DC why the only place for our children to play is being snatched,” the locals said.
They alleged that the government’s claims of promoting sports in Kashmir valley were a farce.
“On one hand they talk about promoting sports and on the other hand our play fields are being turned into army camps,” the villagers said.
They said the playground was used by players from many parts of Kulgam and Anantnag districts as well.
Following the protests, elected legislator from the Homshalibugh constituency, Abdul Majeed Bhat (Larmi), raised the issue in the Legislative Assembly as well.
Deputy Commissioner Anantnag, Mohammad Younis Malik, said that the issue has been taken up with the army officials as well as with senior police officers.
“I have talked to the DIG and the army commander. Hopefully the issue will be resolved soon,” Malik said.
General Officer Commanding (GOC) Victor Force, Major General BS Raju, acknowledged that there was a plan to set up a new camp in the area.
“It’s an operational requirement. However, I will look into it and if it is indeed a play field, we can find alternatives,” Raju said.