J&K polls: Omar hopes removal of Tosha firing range will pay dividends
Beerwah (Kashmir): Reclaiming Tosha Maidan firing range from the Army and promising it to develop it as a tourist resort could pay dividends for Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in this Assembly seat.
Beerwah is witnessing a triangular contest. While the PDP has decided to field its sitting MLA Mohammed Sarfaraz Khan, the Congress has selected local Nazir Ahmed Khan to throw a challenge to Omar.
Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Chief Saif-ud-din Soz has been making attempts to bring a star campaigner into this constituency and sources within the party said attempts were made to rope in Congress President Sonia Gandhi here.
However, the plan apparently did not materialise and she would be visiting only Bandipore Assembly seat and address a campaign rally in Ramban, the sources said.
Omar, who had refused to extend the lease given to the army for the land surrounded by the majestic deodar trees after April 2014, is banking on the removal of firing range and creation of administrative units to shore up his prospects in the seat.
"People here like his sincerity. In June 2011, he left a public meeting only because people here wanted him to promise that he will create a sub-division here. Omar Sahib made it clear that he will not make promises until he is sure that he can do it," says Ghulam Hasan Khan.
Feroz, a university student, says he was touched by Omar's genuineness.
"He also could have made promises and forgotten like other politicians. But he chose to leave and returned here only after he fulfilled the wishes of the people," he said.
On his part, the Chief Minister said, "I was not sure whether I can do it and I have never been in the business of making fake promises. Their demand was genuine and the day I signed the paper, I came back to these people".
Beerwah recently got a sub division, two tehsils and three CD blocks
Notwithstanding the fact that the sitting MLA was from PDP, "Omar government has been generous to this area and helped reclaim Tosha Maidan from Army. This will put this village on the tourism map soon," says Ghulam Qadir, a tea vendor.
Tosha Maidan, which forms a part of this constituency, had become a bone of contention between Army and the state government with latter refusing to extend the lease after April 2014.