The ruling Peoples Democratic Party called it as army’s contribution to its healing touch policy.
The park, located in the Toto ground army garrison, would be developed over 136 kanals with all modern facilities of recreation. Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Tuesday laid foundation of the park in presence of senior cabinet ministers and top army and civil officers.
The Toto ground army camp is contested land with civil authorities saying that over a decade ago they have given alternative land to the army for the Toto ground at Sharief Abad in Budgam area. They say the army took the land at Sharief Abad and subsequently refused to vacate the Toto ground land which is, around 7 km from city centre Lal Chowk.
Since 2003 successive chief ministers including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Omar Abdullah has been asking the army to vacate the Toto ground.
Ruling PDP leaders say the cooperation of the Army to open up citizens park in the Toto ground would help in creating conducive atmosphere in the state. “This is huge development. Henceforth the Army’s major rule will be in conflict transformation not counter insurgency,” said Wahid Parra, political advisor to the Chief Minister.
He said providing land for the citizens park was the army’s contribution to the healing touch policy of Mufti led government.
Commander of Kashmir based 15 Corps, Lt Gen Satish Dua in his address said the army and civil authorities were working for modalities for providing alternative site to the army in lieu of the park. The park, the commander said, would be “shining example” of civil military coordination in the valley and would be open to the civilians and soldiers.
In her address PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said the joint initiative of the state government and the army would rejuvenate “healing touch policy pioneered by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed during his first stint in 2002.” Mehbooba said in 2003 army and other security agencies cooperated with Sayeed in his healing touch policy by “stopping crackdowns and arrests.” “We look forward to similar cooperation,” she said. She, however, indicated that the army has to be ready for different role now. “Earlier army had role to bring normalcy in the state, now we need your (Army) help in healing touch policy,” she said