While welcoming the Army’s “Mission Falah”, in which it completed clearance of Tosamaidan from unexploded shells and other ammunition, Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) chairman and MLA Khansahib Hakim Mohammad Yasin Thursday asked state government to immediately issue a notification that the firing range in central Kashmir’s Budgam district is no longer a field firing range for the Army.
In a statement to press he said, “If Chief Minister Omar Abdullah declared that Tosamaidan is no longer a field firing range for the Army, why hasn’t state government issued a notification in this regard. State government should without any further delay issue a notification in this regard and declare which is the alternate firing range for the Army.”
“Government’s commitment shouldn’t remain on papers only. It shouldn’t be an election stint. If government claims that the lease won’t be extended, then it should notify and identify a new place for firing range. The government should make it public that where the firing range will be shifted and when,” he said.
The MLA Khansahib, in whose constituency Tosamaidan falls, said, “If government fails to issue a notification mentioning the new firing range, doubts about its claims will remain. If Omar Abdullah is sincere in his announcements what stops him from declaring it officially through a notification.”
The PDF chairman also questioned the timing of Omar Abdullah’s visit to Tosamaidan. “In the last two years when the locals were protesting against extension of lease of Tosamaidan to Army, he (Omar) never bothered to visit them. But yesterday he saw an opportunity and rushed there which is nothing but a political stunt,” he said.
Hakim Yasin also said that government has failed to develop Tosamaidan as a tourist attraction. “Omar Abdullah has only been saying that Tosamaidan could be developed as one of the choosiest tourist resorts in the State. He has been saying the focus will be on developing Tosamaidan for tourism related activities to generate employment opportunities, trade and business in the area. But the question is why it remains limited to announcements only. What is stopping Omar from developing the area as tourist attraction,” Hakim asked.