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J-K: Villagers object to Army camp, force asks for land elsewhere

“When there is a big army camp just 4 km away at Khanbal, then what is the need to occupy a stretch of land that is used as a sports stadium by the youths?” asked Mohammad Shafi, a youth from the village.

Written by Mir Ehsan | Srinagar |
Updated: January 23, 2018 1:51:45 pm
jammu kashmir, indian army, Rashtriya Rifles, security camp, playground, Shamsipora, indian express A week ago, some army officers visited the playground and reportedly gave the go-ahead for the new camp to be made there. (Source: Google Maps)

The deputy commissioner of Anantnag has written to the Army’s 2 Rashtriya Rifles, highlighting that the unit’s reported effort to turn a playing area for youths into a security camp was against the wishes of local residents of Shamsipora village and there “is every apprehension of law and order problem in the area”.

The army on Monday said it had asked the district administration to provide alternative land for the camp.

A week ago, some army officers visited the play ground and reportedly gave the go-ahead for the new camp to be made there. However, word spread in Shamsipora that the army was planning to set up a camp in the area.

Villagers saw it as an encroachment on the land used by village youths as a playing field. “When there is a big army camp just 4 km away at Khanbal, then what is the need to occupy a stretch of land that is used as a sports stadium by the youth?” asked Mohammad Shafi, a youth from the village.

On January 20, Mohammad Younis Malik, the Anantnag deputy commissioner, wrote to the commanding officer of 2 Rashtriya Rifles. “Reportedly, your unit is installing a camp at the sports stadium Shamsipora. The general public of the area is vehemently opposed to the installation of the camp at Shamsipora on the plea that the stadium is surrounded by villages who (sic) will face various kinds of inconvenience. There is every apprehension of law and order problem in the area,” the letter said.

On Monday, defense spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia confirmed that the army has received the letter. “The Army has now asked the district administration to provide alternative land so that the camp can be established,” he said, indicating that the force may not push the issue of using the play field.

National Conference legislator from Home Shalibough, Abdul Majeed Larmi, also raised the matter in the Assembly and asked government to stop the army from establishing the camp at Shamsipora.

Sources said that after a survey, the army had finalised the play ground for its new camp to keep an eye on two areas in Kulgam — Redwani and Khudwani — which the force believes is militant-infested. Shamsipora, in south Kahmir, is around 7 km from Anantnag and 4 km from the sector headquarters of the RR unit Khanbal.

A senior police officer said that by making the camp in SHamsipora, the army wanted to stop movement of militants towards Bijbhera and Kulgam and also towards Anantnag.

After the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, the Army has set up many camps in south Kashmir, especially after local youths took to arms here.

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