Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister P K Dhumal on Monday took up the issue of control over Shimla's Annandale grounds, on which his government is at loggerheads with the army, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and said he would meet Defence Minister A K Antony also on the issue.
Dhumal told the media in Delhi that "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," Dhumal, who was in New Delhi to attend the meeting of CMs on internal security, said.
Annandale Ground in Shimla is a huge open space surrounded by thick forests, about 4.5km below the state capital's famous Ridge.
Asked about moving the court against the army for making "defamatory" statements, Dhumal said "some press statement has been given. I have said if an unconditional apology is tendered it is fine, otherwise I am filing a defamation suit in the court. The allegations are without any basis... I don't know why such a statement has been given. Now, let them face the result of giving such statements."
The army-Himachal govt row had escalated after the army had in a statement said national security cannot be ignored for "game and gimmicks". The army maintains Anandale is of strategic significance.
The Himachal CM said "they (Army) are in forcible occupation of the Annadale land since 1982. The residents of Shimla are launching a Jan Andolan. Over one lakh people have given a memorandum to reclaim the prime land and convert it into a playground and develop parks. Army officers are only playing golf there. Let them produce the record what they have been doing there for last 30 years on the basis of security."
The 121-bigha ground at Annandale has been under the army's control since World War II.
The row between the state government and the army came to the fore afresh amid an intensified campaign launched by Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association headed by Anurag Thakur, MP and son of Dhumal, to restore it to the state authorities.