The members of Save Yusmarg Movement (SYM) Friday assembled in the lawns of shrine of Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali (RA) in Chrar-i-Sharief to stage protest demonstration against ‘government plan of shifting the Army’s artillery firing range from Tosa Maidan to Yusmarg.’
“The members were joined by people from the villages living in the vicinity of the area where the new firing range is proposed to come up and who will bear the maximum brunt of artillery exercises,” an SYM spokesman said in a statement today.
“The members discussed the recent statement by Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather who had blamed ‘defeated elements’ of the town for ‘vitiating the atmosphere of peace and development’. The statement fails to explain why the government has mobilized its machinery in irrigation, tourism, forest and PHE departments to assess the impact of new firing range and prepare plans for the rehabilitation of people living in the vicinity of the proposed firing range in Yusmarg who will be uprooted from their ancestral places to pave way for the artillery range,” the spokesman added.
“Rather’s statement has polarized the people of Chrar town and the victims of the new firing range along political lines, which is what, seemed to be his motive in first place,” SYM statement said, adding, “It has also divided the clergy. Today, we were not even allowed to use a microphone for expressing our views on the issue inside the lawns of the Sufi saint who stood for freedom of speech of his people.”
“The SYM members have enough reasons to suspect the motives of the government. Over the last two months, umpteen reconnaissance surveys have been conducted of the proposed firing range by Army escorted by senior government officials. We have documentary proof that the government is planning to rehabilitate the people living in the vicinity of the proposed firing range in Yusmarg,” the spokesperson said.
Considering the seriousness of the issue Save Yusmarg Movement demanded that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah should make a statement on the status of relocation of Tosa Maidan firing range to Yusmarg in the upcoming Assembly session to prevent the issue from flaring up.