Abid Hussain

Drive against unexploded munitions begins at Tosamaidan

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Locals welcome move, but fear it may end like 'Operation Fallah'

Tosamaidan (Budgam), Aug 20: Days after public outcry over the death of a teenager, the government on Sunday finally launched a sanitization drive to clear Tosamaidan from unexploded shells.

A team from 53 Rashtriya Rifles, 118 Engineer Regiment and bomb disposal squad of Jammu and Kashmir Police are conducting the combing drive.

On the first day of demining, around 10 leftover shells were exploded after locals provided assistance to army in identifying the explosive objects.

While talking to media persons, second-in- command Sandeep Rana, who is inspecting the drive, said, “We have started a joint sanitization drive with J&K police after an innocent boy got killed here on August 12. We will try our best to destroy explosive material and make Tosamaidan safe for locals and visitors.”

He said that army has exploded many shells and would continue doing it until area is cleared. Rana requested visitors not to fiddle with any suspected objects and if found report it to the nearest army camp.

About the support of locals, he said that locals are providing huge support in terms of identifying leftover live shells.

While welcoming the move, the residents of Tosamaidan and adjacent villages said that their demand of sanitization has been accepted. “We welcome the initiative but we want army to take keen interest in clearing Tosamaidan.”

However, many locals fear that the drive might end without any outcome like ‘Operation Fallah’ of 2014 as army has not been equipped with latest machinery.

They said that hundreds of shells are buried in the meadows, but army has no equipment by which those shells could be detected.

“Army has only bomb disposal squad here. It’s impossible for them to search the unending meadows here. They should have been equipped with latest sophisticated mine defusing machines.”

Earlier, in 2014, army undertook 83-day mopping operation to clear the Tosamaidan meadows and with the death of a youth on August 12 after a littered shell exploded, the operation clean-up is being held again.

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