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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Dhumal, army lock horns over a ground

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 15, 2012
First Published: 19:13 IST(15/4/2012) | Last Updated: 01:24 IST(16/4/2012)

The party may have accused the Centre of mishandling relations with the army because of lack of “statecraft”, but a BJP CM is now at loggerheads with the army, threatening the Western Command with a defamation case.

After the army publicly accused the Prem Kumar Dhumal government in Himachal Pradesh of conniving with land mafia in "proposing" to build a cricket stadium at Annadale Ground in Shilmla, Dhumal threatened it with a defamation suit unless it apologised unconditionally.

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Talking to reporters here, Dhumal added this latest action of the army was also a "violation" of the federal structure: “Central agencies have been interfering in the states' domain. After NIA and IB, the army has also come into the picture.”  

The Ground in question was with the army since World War II, was leased out to it after independence, though there the lease has not been renewed since 1982.

“For 30 years, it is under illegal occupation of the army. We had offered them another land in Ghandal village in 2002, but they rejected the proposal in 2011,” said Dhumal. “We have just said this time that we'll forward representations (of people for a cricket stadium there) to the Prime Minister.”

He claimed that not a single cricket association — his son Anurag Thakur is associated with these — had asked for a cricket ground here.

Dhumal accused the army of “letting go of land on the China border,” saying it was now defaming the state government for a land where army men just “play golf”.

He added, “Chinese planes have come into the state's territory in the past and there is no response from the Centre. The army should be more active where they are required to be.” He also accused the army of having stopped Muslims from reading the Namaz in Nahan, adding the state had then intervened.

Hitting out at the army claim that the state government was destroying forest cover, Dhumal said, "It seems the Western Command is responsible for forests too." He said the state had, in fact, added to its forest cover. Dhumal, however, added that he had done a lot for the army, saying he was the only CM to visit Kargil during the Kargil war.

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