‘Being Part Of Kashmir Was Better’ Ladakhi leaders opted out of GoI’s high powered meet

'Being Part Of Kashmir Was Better' Ladakhi leaders opted out of GoI's high powered meet

Ladakhi leaders, having opted out of the Centre’s high powered committee, say they were better off in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir than under the Union Territory administration.
Days after the Union home ministry formed a committee, headed by Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai, to end resentment in the region, the leadership spearheading protests in Ladakh has refused to be part of the panel.

The Apex Body of Ladakh and Kargil Democratic Alliance have unanimously decided that it will not be part of the any proceedings of the committee until their demands, including statehood to Ladakh and special status under 6th schedule of the constitution, are made part of the agenda of high powered committee.

Lt Governor of Ladakh, MP Ladakh, a senior home ministry official and nine representatives of Apex Body of Leh and Kargil Democratic Alliance are members of the Committee.

“Given the present scenario, we feel the earlier arrangement of being part of J&K was better,” said Chering Dorjay, leader of the Apex Body of Leh and senior vice president of Ladakh Buddhist Association.

Mr Dorjay alleged that the centre is trying to make a fool of Ladakhi people after forming the high powered committee but refuses to accept their demand of statehood and 6th schedule for Ladakh.

“They are trying to make fool of us. We understand that the centre is against our demand for statehood and 6th schedule,” said Mr Dorjay.

For more than a year, people in Ladakh are on an agitation demanding statehood and special status under 6th schedule of the constitution.

The move is a major challenge for the central government amid a protracted military standoff along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.

The centre and the BJP had touted carving out Ladakh as a separate Union territory a historic move that will bring development and also end decades of discrimination to people of Ladakh.

But within two years, people in Leh and Kargil felt politically dispossessed and have jointly risen against the centre. They are demanding an end to bureaucratic rule in the Union Territory.

Mr Dorjay, who is also former BJP leader and a minister, said that the committee agenda to protect jobs, land and identity of Ladakhi people lacks credibility because it’s not clear under which provision of the constitution they will provide these rights to people of Ladakh.

“All these things can be protected under the 6th schedule of the constitution. They (centre) say they will protect jobs, land and identity of Ladakh. But under which act and the schedule they will do it?” asks Mr Dorjay.

He said that people in Leh had demanded a union territory but it’s not worked well for people.

“Yes, there was a demand for Union Territory in Leh. But it didn’t work well for people. It’s not what we had thought about,” said Mr Dorjay.

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Sajad Hussian of Kargil democratic alliance says he strongly supports the sentiments of Mr Dorjay and Buddhist leadership of Leh and they are unanimous in their demand for statehood and special status under the 6th schedule.

“We will continue our protests. We believe people of Ladakh should get their democratic rights in real sense. Our rights have been usurped. We should not be treated like Gilgit Baltistan is being treated by Pakistan,” said Sajad Hussain of Kargil Democratic Alliance.

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