In Leh and Kargil, different reasons to oppose the current status of Ladakh


When Jammu and Kashmir was split into two Union Territories on August 5, 2019, Ladakh was seen welcoming the reorganization. His deputy, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal of the BJP, said in Lok Sabha that “the prime minister… understood the feelings of the people and respected the region. He delivered a speech on political aspirations, the spirit of development and even recognized the contribution of the people of the Ladakh region.

Ultimately, this statement covered up Ladakh’s concerns and the various demands of its two districts, Leh and Kargil. These demands have arisen at different times over the past two years, but the government now seems to be paying more attention to them, along with addressing the political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir.

It appears that a committee headed by Minister of State for the Interior G Kishan Reddy will seek to respond to these demands from Ladakh. The formation of such a committee was announced in January, but has since been in cold storage.

Leh and Kargil, not the same

Of the two districts of Ladakh, the August 2019 changes were immediately opposed by the residents of Kargil, where the leaders of the majority Shiite population demanded that the district be part of J&K and that a special status be restored to protect the people. rights of the people of Kargil to their land and employment opportunities. The people of Kargil consider themselves a minority in predominantly Buddhist Ladakh.

Leh’s opposition came later. A UT for Ladakh was a long-standing request from Leh’s Buddhist majority, who believed he was marginalized in the larger state of J&K. But what Leh’s leadership did not negotiate was the complete loss of legislative powers. Previously, the two districts had each sent four representatives to the J&K legislature. After the changes, there was only one legislator – their only MP – with all the powers vested in the UT bureaucracy. Unlike J&K UT, Ladakh was a UT without an assembly.

What the two districts of Ladakh fear is that the alienation of the land, the loss of identity, culture, language and changing demographics, will follow their political impotence.

Hill Development Tips

Leh and Kargil have Autonomous Hills Development Councils, established under the Autonomous Hills Development Councils of Ladakh Act 1997. However, the AHDCs have no legislative power. The councils are elected and have executive powers over the allocation, use and occupation of the lands vested in them by the Center, and the powers to collect certain local taxes, such as parking fees, taxes on stores, etc. But the real powers are now wielded by the UT administration, which is considered even more distant than the former state government of J&K.

Last year, as the five-year term of Leh Ladakh’s AHDC came to an end and elections were scheduled, a group calling itself the Popular Movement for the Sixth Program, a grouping of political parties and Religious organizations, including the almighty Ladakh based in Leh The Buddhist Association, presented its request for an autonomous hill council under the Sixth Annex, modeled on the Bodoland Territorial Council in Assam.

The sixth schedule is a provision of Article 224 (a) of the Constitution, originally intended for the creation of self-governing tribal regions in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura. Hill councils under this provision have legislative powers.

All of Leh’s political parties, including the BJP, have announced a boycott of the LAHDC-Leh elections. They called off the boycott after a meeting with Interior Minister Amit Shah in Delhi in which they were promised “sixth annex” type protections. Elections were held for the LAHDC-Leh, in which the BJP won the majority of seats, but less than in the 2015 elections.

The LAHDC-Kargil elections will only take place in 2023. Significantly, Kargil’s political leadership, grouped together under the name of the Kargil Democratic Alliance – it includes representatives of the local units of the National Conference, the PDP, the Congress as well as two influential Shiite seminaries, the Islamia School Kargil and the Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust – did not join the request for the Sixth Schedule. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram. Click on here to join our channel (@ieexplained) and stay up to date with the latest

Evolving demands

But with no progress on Leh’s demand for Sixth Schedule protections, Leh’s leadership – including former MP Thupsten Chewang and former Minister J&K Chering Dorjay Labrook, both previously with the BJP – has now increased its demands. On June 24, as a delegation from J&K met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Secretary Amit Shah in Delhi, Leh leaders spoke at a press conference at the monastery de Thiksey to request a Union territory with an elected assembly.

Meanwhile, a KDA delegation that met with MoS Reddy on July 1 demanded the full state of Ladakh, as well as the restoration of a special status with Articles 35 and 370 of the Constitution. Asgar Ali Karbalai, head of LAHDC-Kargil, who led the delegation, said other issues discussed included protections for language, culture, land and jobs, as well as a long-standing demand for a road between Kargil and Skardu in the territory under Pakistan in Gilgit-Baltistan.

There has been some concern in Leh about how the Home Office appears to be treating political leaders from the two Ladakh districts separately. But if the committee with planned representation from the two districts is put in place, it would allow the leaders of Leh and Kargil to work on a common negotiating front, leaders of both sides said.

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