Day after Leh’s united face over issue, Kargil district opposes demand
The long-standing demand for union territory (UT) status to Ladakh today divided the region on religious lines with the Muslim-majority Kargil area telling the Centre that it was against the division of Ladakh and its separation from the state.
The move came a day after the demand of a joint delegation of all political parties, religious organisations and civil society groups in Leh to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday.
The Ladakh region comprises Leh and Kargil districts. Leh is predominately inhabited by the Buddhist community while Kargil is dominated by Shia Muslims.
On the concluding day of his visit to Ladakh, the Union Home Minister reached Kargil around 11:45 am and straightway went to the Kargil War Memorial in Drass, where he laid a wreath in memory of martyrs.
He met over 150 persons in 21 delegations representing political parties, religious organisations and civil society groups in Kargil.
“He heard them and accepted memoranda from them. He assured them that the government would look into their demands on merit,” an official spokesperson said. Rajnath Singh left for New Delhi in the evening.
Congress MLA from Kargil Asgar Ali Karbalai said, “Zanskar MLA Aga Syed Baqir Rizvi and I have told him that we are against division of Ladakh on religious lines. We oppose the demand for UT status made in Leh. Ladakh does not mean only Leh district.”
He regretted that Leh had been demanding UT status on religious lines, which was not acceptable to Kargil.
“We want a united and integrated J&K. We have suffered heavily and cannot afford it anymore. Over 5,000 families are still separated on both the sides of the Line of Control in Ladakh and Gilgit-Baltistan regions,” Karbalai said.
Rizvi said they raised the issue of “discrimination” against the people of Kargil on the development front.
“We are not in favour of division of the state on religious lines. We informed the Home Minister about discrimination against Kargil in development. The Centre should pay special attention for the development of Kargil and Zanskar,” he said.
Sources said two religious bodies in Kargil — Islamia School and Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust — opposed the demand for UT status to Ladakh as well.