Budgam: Weeks after a youth died and another lost his leg, when an littered shell exploded at Tosamaidan, the government has launched a fresh sanitisation drive to clear Tosamaidan of any littered shells.
The move comes after public outcry over the loss of human life in the explosion.
Sub-district Magistrate Beerwah Abdul Majeed Lone told Kashmir Reader that a team of 53 Rashtriya Rifles and 118 Engineers Regiment of the Indian Army, alogn with teams of civil administration and police bomb disposal squad are conducting the drive.
“The process of cleaning the meadow is still going on. Earlier it was started on 18 August and was stopped on Eid. After Eid, it has once again started and is still going on,” Deputy Commissioner Budgam Syed Sehrish Asgar told Kashmir Reader.
On the very first day, around 19 unexploded shells were spotted and disposed of by the team.
An army spokesman said in a statement: “We have started a joint sanitization drive in collaboration with Jammu and Kashmir police after an unexploded shell went off and killed a boy and injured many on August 12.”
“We will try our best to destroy the explosive material and make Tosamaidan safe for locals and visitors,” he said.
He said many shells were defused during the sanitization process and that the drive will continue till the area is made “cent percent clear”.
“We also request the visitors not to fiddle with any suspected object, and if found by someone report it to the nearest police station or army camp,” the statement said.
“Since it is not a small area and its sanitization is not a joke, we will hire the locals who will identify the spots where shells would be present so that we may end it in short period of time,” it added.
While the local residents have shown positive response to the drive but many fear that the drive might end up like ‘Operation Fallah’, which was carried out by the state government in 2014.
Locals demand that the teams be provided with latest machinery to spot unexploded shells quickly.
“The sanitization drive was also carried out in the past. Despite that, a boy died and dozens were injured after a shell exploded in the meadow,” locals alleged and said it should not happen now.
They added that hundreds of shells are still buried in the meadow.
In 2014, the Army undertook an 83-day mopping operation to clear the Tosamaidan meadows.