Anantnag: Despite repeated assurances from the district administration, the army is yet to vacate the portion of a sports stadium they occupied last month here in Shamsipora area of Anantnag district.
The army had on around January 16 dumped construction material and stationed men in a portion of the stadium, intending, they said, to construct a major camp at the site.
The locals of the area held repeated protest demonstrations at the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Anantnag and demanded the army’s immediate removal.
Following the protests – and the taking up of the issue in the ongoing session of the Legislative Assembly by local lawmaker Abdul Majeed Bhat alias Larmi – the district administration assured people that the army would vacate the land soon.
However, more than a fortnight later, the army is staying put with over 25 of their men and a few vehicles, along with the construction material, sill at the site.
Locals resent the take-over because the ground apart from being a sports stadium also becomes a grazing land in the summers.
“Moreover, you can see that a mini receiving station is already constructed in one portion of the ground and a health facility is being constructed in another portion,” the locals, Kashmir Reader talked to, said.
They said that the army’s occupation of the land will make the area a no-go zone for the locals.
“We are apprehensive of altercations between local youth and the army men, which will ultimately translate into, God forbid, our loss,” the locals said.
They added that the only respite seen in the last two weeks has been that the army men are now allowing the local youth to use the play ground.
“Earlier, they were not allowing anyone to venture towards the ground. Now we are being allowed. But we are worried that if a permanent camp is established here, we will lose our play ground,” youth Kashmir Reader talked to said.
The army men stationed at the site refused to comment on their stay while talking to this reporter.
“We have been ordered to be here and so we are. We don’t know when we have to vacate or whether we have to stay or not,” an army personnel stationed there said.
He asked the reporter to talk to the higher-ups regarding the matter.
The army men also did not allow the reporter to take any pictures of the site.
Deputy Commissioner Anantnag Mohammad Younis Malik told Kashmir Reader that the army was in the process of identifying a suitable site for the establishment of a camp.
“They will leave the site in Shamsipora soon as an alternate one is identified,” Malik said.