In view of the threat of agitation given by the LAB due to prolonged delay in the constitution of the Panel to address their issues including the grant of Statehood to the Union Territory of Ladakh, the Government of India (GoI) is likely to constitute a high-powered committee shortly for holding negotiations with the Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA).
While there has been no official statement issued so far, reports with the Excelsior newspaper indicated that Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai might head the Committee which could include officials of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs dealing with Ladakh and representatives of the LAB and KDA as suggested by the two organizations.
“The Committee is likely to have nominees of the BJP as well though the party isn’t on good terms with the LAB and KDA and has openly voiced opposition to their demand for Statehood but supported Constitutional safeguards for Ladakh,” the reports said, adding the Panel is set to be named shortly as the Government is in no mood to allow flare-up of the agitation in otherwise completely peaceful Ladakh.
As per the reports, soon after the constitution of the Committee, it was expected to initiate talks with the two bodies of Leh and Kargil to ensure that there is no agitation in Ladakh.
LAB chief Thupstan Chhewang, a former two-time Lok Sabha MP from Ladakh, had on 15 October declared that the organization has decided to launch an agitational program in Ladakh after the passage of nearly one and a half months of LAB and KDA talks with Nityanand Rai in New Delhi there was no forward movement and the MHA hadn’t even constituted the Committee for talks with Leh and Kargil representatives to address their issues.
Asserting that they have been left with no other option but to adopt an agitational program, Chhewang had said the schedule of agitation would be announced soon and shifted blame for this on the MHA saying they are not even calling them for talks.
Earlier, the talks between MHA and Leh and Kargil representatives were going on when GK Reddy was Union Minister of State for Home.
Reddy had called separately the representatives of Leh and Kargil districts for talks and was scheduled to meet them jointly but he was elevated as Cabinet Minister for Tourism and Culture in July’s expansion of Narendra Modi Cabinet. The MHA had later designated MoS Home Nityanand Rai for talks.
On 28 August on the arrival of Nityanand Rai to Leh, the LAB and KDA had given a call for bandh in Ladakh as the two bodies were not called for the meeting prompting Union Home Minister Amit Shah to intervene.
Shah had called up Thupstan Chhewang after which Nityanand Rai had called the two bodies for talks in which he had assured to set up a high-level committee soon for talks with the LAB and KDA but that Panel hasn’t been formed even after one and a half months.
The demands raised jointly by LAB and KDA include full-fledged Statehood for Ladakh, Constitutional safeguards under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, two Parliamentary seats for Ladakh, protection of jobs, land, culture, language, identity, environment and minerals, etc of Ladakh.
While the Union Minister of State for Home hadn’t issued any official statement after the meeting, KDA leader Haji Asgar Ali Karbalaie had stated that the Minister has given two assurances very categorically including the constitution of a high-level committee for talks with LAB and KDA and issuance of Recruitment Policy so that the youth get absorbed.
“We hope the Minister will fulfill the promise as earlier also the Home Ministry had given assurances but nothing happened. However, the Minister told us that he is a son of the farmer and his assurance should be taken for granted,” Karbalaie had stated.
BJP district president Tashi Khachutse had recently stated that the BJP is opposed to the demand for Statehood to Ladakh as the people had for the last 70 years been demanding Union Territory status which was granted by the Central Government on 5 August 2019. However, he had said the BJP fully supports Constitutional safeguards for Ladakh.