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Army-Himachal row reaches Centre’s doorstep

NEW DELHI: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday in the wake of an Army statement accusing him of being hand in glove with land mafia to

Published: 17th April 2012 03:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 07:34 PM   |  A+A-

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An Army personnel during a mock drill at Annandale ground in Shimla on Monday

NEW DELHI: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday in the wake of an Army statement accusing him of being hand in glove with land mafia to usurp a defence land.

The force had ordered an inquiry into the issuance of the unprecedented statement by its Western Command Headquarters.

The Army-state government row forced an angry  Dhumal to take up the matter with the Prime Minister.  

Dhumal told reporters here, “the way the Army people are interfering in Shimla on the Annadale issue, indiscipline is increasing and Army officers are making press statements. Indiscipline in Central forces is an issue of serious concern.”

“I have met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. I have personally brought the matter to the notice of the Prime Minister. I am also trying to meet the Defence Minister and seeking time from him today,” said Dhumal, who was in Delhi to attend the internal security meeting.

The Army press statement could have wider ramifications as it is for the first time the force has officially pointed fingers at the head of the state government.

Seeking to downplay the damning press release that read more like a passionate plea with a heading ‘Cricket Stadium Annadale: A disaster in the making’, Army Chief General V K Singh said on Monday that he would personally speak to the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister to clear the air. On Monday evening, the Army Headquarters ordered an inquiry into the statement.

What makes the situation worse is that the Army gets a lot of its human resource from the state. At the centre of the controversy is the Annadale ground that has been with the Army since World War II. While the Army claims it to be ‘strategically’ important, a civilian signature campaign is building up to establish a cricket stadium on the ground, for which the lease expired in 1982.  

Earlier, the Western Army Command’s press release, contending that the parties with ‘vested’ interests were fanning the controversy, said: “Rather than initiating measures to bring additional areas under forest cover, the state seems to be hell bent on destroying the meager existing forest cover, all at the behest of land mafia, eyeing phenomenal profits, which the cricket stadium would bring.”



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