A major protest was organised in New Delhi on Wednesday as thousands of people from Ladakh gathered at Jantar Mantar to raise slogans, demanding statehood and constitutional safeguards for jobs and land in the region. Ladakh political leaders, social activists, students and women from different social circles were among the protesters.
The Leh Apex Body and the Kargil Democratic Alliance, which have been at the forefront of the agitation, had called for the demonstration. Apart from statehood, they have been demanding Sixth Schedule under the Constitution for the UT, job reservation, a separate public service commission and two parliamentary seats for Leh and Kargil.
“Our traditions, ethnic identity, resources and security are at stake. Our demand is very simple. We want democracy to be restored in Ladakh by giving it statehood and to be brought under the Sixth Schedule of Constitution,” said Thupstan Chhewang, a former BJP MP who resigned in 2018, accusing the party of not fulfilling the promises made to the people of Ladakh.
Environmental activist and educator Sonam Wangchuk accused the BJP of reneging on its promise of including Ladakh under the Sixth Schedule. “Now, it is a crime to even talk about it. If youth in Ladakh speak of the Sixth Schedule, they are detained,” he said. Former Kargil MLA Asgar Ali Karbalai said, “If Sikkim can get statehood, why not Ladakh?”
Politician and activist Sajjad Hussain said they hoped government would take note of their demands and listen to them. “Our demands include statehood for Ladakh, Sixth Schedule under the Constitution, job reservation, a separate public service commission for Ladakh and two parliamentary seats for Leh and Kargil,” he said. In January, the Home Ministry constituted a panel to “ensure protection of land and job” for the people of Ladakh. The two bodies from Leh and Kargil, however, decided not to attend any meeting, saying its mandate did not mention their issues. (With PTI inputs)
Apart from statehood, the Leh Apex Body and the Kargil Democratic Alliance have been demanding Sixth Schedule under the Constitution for the UT, job reservation, a separate public service commission and two parliamentary seats for Leh and Kargil.