Tribune News Service
Srinagar, June 2
A few days after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti threw Tosa Maidan meadow open for public, the Tosa Maidan Bachav Front (TBF) has demanded compensation to be paid to the families who have lost their kin in explosions of leftover live shells.
“We express gratitude to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for throwing open Tosa Maidan as a tourist destination on May 29, and accepting our demand of developing it on Community-Driven Adventure and Rural Tourism (CDART) basis. However, there are several demands which are yet to be approved by her. The most important being compensation for the families of victims killed,” a TBF spokesperson said in a statement issued here.
At least 65 persons have been killed and scores injured due to explosions of leftover live shells in Tosa Maidan, which was handed over to the Army in 1964 to be used as firing range.
However, following the expiry of its lease on April 18, the locals of the area demanded that the firing range should be vacated. The villagers living around term it as “a meadow of death” as many civilians have died in explosions and scores of people have undergone amputations of limbs.
J&K RTI Movement chairman Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, who was at forefront of the campaign for getting the meadow vacated, had gathered 64 panchayats together under the banner of TBF in 2008.
“Shaikh did our hand-holding to lead our course to a bold move of evacuating the Army from Tosa Maidan that had witnessed 65 deaths and injury of over 70 inhabitants of our area. He showed further how to develop Tosa Maidan as a tourist destination,” the TBF statement said.
The TBF submitted the CDART proposal before Divisional Commissioner Asgar Samoon to develop Tosa Maidan as a rural tourism place. He approved the project on March, 29, 2016, the Tosa Maidan Bachav Front added.
Meanwhile, Legislative Council member Saif-ud-Din Mir on Wednesday sought the status of Tosa Maidan from the government in the ongoing session.
“The Chief Minister has announced a separate Tourism Development Authority for Tosa Maidan. And government is vigorously pursuing the clearance from the Forest Department for constructing road from Sitaharan to make Tosa Maidan accessible,” the government said in its reply.
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