In Historic First, Leh & Kargil Leaders Join Hands, Demand Statehood for Ladakh
The demand comes ahead of the 2nd anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of J&K.
Ahead of the second anniversary marking the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories, leaders of Leh and Kargil in Ladakh recently came together to demand full statehood and constitutional safeguards for Ladakh.
The political consensus between the leadership from the two districts of Ladakh – the Muslim-majority Kargil and the Buddhist-dominated Leh –came as a historic first.
WHAT IS THIS ALLIANCE?
Two ideologically-varying parties, the Leh-based Apex Body of People's Movement for 6th Schedule, and the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), joined hands to raise the concerns of the people of Ladakh.
"This is a historic and golden day for the people of Ladakh. We have reached here on the invitation of the Apex Body yesterday (Saturday) and held a threadbare discussion to reach a consensus on four points, including the demand for the full statehood for Ladakh," Co-Chairman of KDA Asgar Ali Karbalai was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Both parties had been formed following the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.
While the Apex Body had favoured the granting of Union territory status to Leh, it had called for the implementation of the sixth schedule of the Constitution, in the interests of preserving the culture and identity of the local people. On the other hand, the KDA had opposed the conversion of Ladakh into a Union territory and had demanded full statehood for the region.
"Have trust and faith in the joint committee. We will not let you down," Karbalai told reporters on Sunday, PTI reported. He added that the the two parties have set aside their differences for the larger interests of Ladakh.
BJP-led Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council was also a part of the deliberations, NDTV reported.
WHAT DEMANDS HAVE BEEN RAISED?
The alliance has raised the demand for full statehood with legislature for Ladakh. The leaders will also push for one more Lok Sabha seat and two more Rajya Sabha seats from the region.
"We are forming a joint committee which will represent the entire Ladakh and hold further dialogue on various demands with the central government. The focus of our demands will be full-fledged statehood for Ladakh, constitutional safeguards whether under sixth schedule or Article 371 of the constitution and one more seat in Lok Sabha and two Rajya Sabha seats," Apex Body leader and former BJP MP Thupstan Chhewang was quoted as saying by PTI.
The KDA-Apex Body alliance also seeks constitutional guarantees along the lines of Article 371, to protect the land and job rights of the local people.
Apex Body leader Chhewang indicated that the alliance will push for a special recruitment drive for the youth in the region, setting a deadline of one month for the UT administration to fill over 10,000 vacancies available in various departments, PTI reported.
"We want the administration to provide jobs to the local educated youth as per already issued Permanent Resident Certificates for identification of Ladakh residents. Domicile law like the one implemented in J-K is not acceptable to us," he said, PTI reported.
The leaders indicated that they will seek a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to discuss their demands, NDTV reported.
WHAT IS THE STATUS IN LADAKH?
On 5 August 2019, the BJP government revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and statehood, and Ladakh was bifurcated from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and was declared a Union territory without legislature.
In the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh had two members of the legislative assembly from each district, and one member of the legislative council from both the districts, including the hill development council.
In August 2019, when the state of Jammu and Kashmir was divided and the special status was abrogated, the people of Kargil strongly objected and staged protests, while the people of Leh were seen dancing and celebrating the government’s move.
However, a year after the revocation, people from both regions had voiced their concerns, relating to land ownership and employment.
(With inputs from NDTV and PTI)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.