Dhumal raises Shimla ground row in Delhi; Army says no conflict

New Delhi/Shimla: The controversy over ownership of the Annadale Ground in Shimla today reached New Delhi with Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal raising it during the chief ministers’ conference even as the army sought to clear the air by saying “there is no conflict with the state”.

The 121-bigha green patch (one bigha is 0.4 hectare), just three km from Shimla’s Ridge, has been a flashpoint of confrontation between the state and the army as the latter does not allow the ground for civilian use.

Yesterday, Dhumal threatened to file a defamation suit if the army did not apologise for alleging that the state government wanted to grab the Annandale Ground.

Speaking at the chief ministers’ meet on internal security in the national capital, Dhumal said the ground “is in the illegal possession of the defence authorities as its lease had expired many years back”.

“He (Dhumal) also took up the issue of the army authorities raising the issue in media by not only distorting the facts but also making false and baseless allegations against the state government..,” a statement issued here said.

Dhumal demanded an enquiry into the whole matter and asked for “suitable action against all those responsible in this matter”.

Army conducted a mock drill at Annadale today

In Shimla, Brig A.K. Sharma of the army’s Western Command told reporters that the ground which is in its possession since World War II is strategically and logistically important for the army to carry out exercises and operations in forward areas.

“The Annandale Ground is logically, operationally and from the disaster point of view very critical,” Sharma told reporters.

He said the army has “no issue with the state government”.

Justifying keeping the ground in the army’s possession, Sharma said it was also needed for carrying out relief operations in case of natural disasters in forward areas in the region.

“Considering the fact that this area falls under the high seismic zone and it has the history of flashfloods, yes the army needs its possession.”

Sharma said the armed forces were regularly conducting exercises, both operational and disaster management in addition to routine training.

“It’s a mother helipad (important point for landing and operations of helicopters) from where both relief and rescue operations are carried out quickly and smoothly,” Sharma added.

He was here to oversee disaster management exercises of the army.

Sharma also denied that the army had issued any statement alleging that the state government wanted to grab the land.

“We have never issued any such statement,” Sharma said, adding that “the army has nothing to say about the issues raised by the media (over the tussle between the government and the army over the ownership of the ground)”.

He refuted reports of differences between the army and the state. “Both have good relations.”

“It’s a state which contributed maximum to the armed forces. Even the government is amiable with the army as it has promised to provide a land to the army for setting up a regimental centre.”

Members of Annadale for Citizens protest outside Annadale

The chief minister had said the land belonged to the state government and was under unlawful occupation of the army. He said the land was given to the army on lease for 10 years and the term was extended. He added that the lease had not been renewed for the last 30 years.

Dhumal has already refuted allegations that the state government wanted to take the possession of the ground as his son Anurag Thakur – a BJP MP and a cricket administrator – wanted to build a cricket stadium there.

IANS: Photo – Amit

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3 Comments

  1. says: Sumit Raj Vashisht

    Annandale ground at the moment is in the right hands, that is Indian Army. At least it is being maintained. If it goes in the hands of the government it will be encroached immediately. The plan of making a Cricket Stadium is just dirty game of Politics. Once the stadium is built the beauty and the ambience of the area shall get destroyed.

    Shimla has already seen lot of destruction and I request the elegant citizens of Shimla not to insist of making the Stadium and rather let it be as it is. In the shape of this lovely dale we have at least one place that is preserving nature. So please do not kill it. ….

  2. says: PradeepR

    YOU TOO, BRUTUS!
    China has no better friend than Dhumal who is blinded by his obsession to catapult his lacklustre polotician greenhorn son at the national l;andscape. Having failed to make impact on national politics by providing clapping backup to our Gandhi Smadhi dancing vitirtuoso Sushma Swaraj, Thakur and his papa Dhumal now eyeing HP Cricket as another launch pad. Keep it up Dhumal keep it up. Today you wanna sue Army for exposing your actual intentions. Great job! How about shutting down all cantonements in H.P.? After Western Command left Shimla for Chandimandir, I think it is time you give finishing touch to make everything easy for China. Make H.P another Aksai Chin, ye Great Patriot of China!

  3. says: puneet

    yes ,,,this must be not entertained at all ……….the annadale …ground is in safe hands and the govt. is just exxagerated the matter ,,,,,,,,,beside that govt. should take concern the outside countries activities or tresspassing in the state ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,on the boarder ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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