Srinagar: At least 20 persons were on Wednesday taken into preventive custody when a group of people protested against lease extension to Army for using a ground in Budgam district in Jammu and Kashmir as a firing range.
Activists from Jammu and Kashmir RTI Movement, Tosamaidan Bachao Front and Rural Voice gathered at Pratap park here demanding that the State government should not extend the lease to Army for Tosamaidan.
As the protestors tried to take out a march, police swung into action and took 20 persons into preventive custody, an official said.
Tosamaidan, a vast exapnse of lush green meadows in Budgam, was given on lease to Army in 1954 for use as artillery firing practice range. The lease was extended for 10 years in 2004 and will end on April 18 this year.
According to the protestors, more than 60 persons have been killed and 40 other injured due to shells fired from the firing range over the years.
"We have given a deadline to Government for making the order public by April 18. Till then protests will continue and we request all people of the State to observe April 18 as Black day," chairman of Jammu and Kashmir RTI Movement Ghulam Rasool Shaikh said.
Sarpanch of Chill village Mohammad Maqbool Magray said the grassroots level Panchayat representatives from surrounding villages of Tosamaidan will tender mass resignations if the government failed to issue formal orders for cancellation of the lease.
"If Government failed to issue a formal order by April 18, the local Panchs and Sarpanchs will start mass resignation in the 52 villages of Toasmaidan," Magray said.