Army goes on with Tosa Maidan drive; NC says a welcome move
The army continued with its drive against unexploded explosives and weapons at Tosa Maidan firing range in central Kashmir's Budgam district.
"Medical and veterinary camps will also be conducted. Besides, sports activities and tree plantation is also planned in collaboration with the people," said a defence spokesman.
On August 1, the army had launched a massive drive at the Tosa Maidan firing range, established in 1964, to detect and defuse unexploded explosives in the area.
Three people were killed last year in the area due to littered explosives.
"This area was also used extensively by terrorists infiltrating from south of Pir Panjal. A terrorist was killed within the range area in 1997. A total of 10 terrorists were apprehended and 69 killed from the areas around Toshamaidan Range from 1995 to 2007", said the spokesman.
The army has once again expressed sadness over the death of Bilal Ahmed Parray in the vicinity of the range.
The army is also sensitising locals not to venture into the area for safety reasons during the process of clearance and not to handle any suspicious material themselves.
The army has issued helpline numbers 01933-261923 and 09858994704 for locals.
Meanwhile, the ruling National Conference (NC) on Saturday welcomed the army operation in Tosa Maidan.
"NC had taken an unambiguous and principled stand on this issue and had categorically voiced its irrevocable and unquestionable opposition to the extension of the lease to the artillery range", said NC spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu.
He said it was a result of NC's sustained efforts and, especially those of chief minister Omar Abdullah, that the way was being paved for the final relocation of the artillery firing range.
"NC has a vision of bringing Tosa Maidan, Khag, Beerwah and adjoining areas on the tourism map by creating modern tourism infrastructure and hospitality avenues in the area by facilitating local youth to become tourism entrepreneurs, who would eventually create thousands of new jobs for the local population there", he added.