Students in Delhi urge integration between religious organisations

Kargili students during Aashura procession in Delhi
Kargili students during Aashura procession in Delhi

Addressing to the gathering on the auspicious congregation of Sham E Ghareeban in Delhi AKSUD senior advisor Feroz Rabbani urge the religious organisations in Kargil to integrate together for the welfare of the society.

“We have heard that an initiative has been taken to integrate the religious organisations in Kargil. So we request them to integrate at least for the welfare of the society.” Said Molana Rabbani.

” They have no issues in integration for all the other matters other than religious congregations but they always divide their lines on this auspicious occasion of Imam Hussain (a.s.)” Rabbani added.

AKSUD have wrote a letter to the head of both the oraganisations urging them to integrate.

AKSUD letter to the head of IKMT and ISK. Specially arranged by Ladakh Express.
AKSUD letter to the head of IKMT and ISK. Specially arranged by Ladakh Express.
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“Ladakh” : Is it only “Land of Lamas”?

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Whenever one hears the word “Ladakh”, why is that the term brings only an image of the “Land of Lamas” to the minds of most people, when the fact is that Ladakh is far more ethnically and religiously diverse?  A perception in part of the Ladakh has gathered over the years, that in creating an image of Ladakh to the outside world, the Ladakh region has been conveniently allowed to be culturally hijacked by its better known part, which we all know as Leh, to the extent that Ladakh is now being alternatively known as “Leh, Ladakh,” ignoring its other equal half – Kargil.

Allowing Ladakh to be called and identified with Leh is no problem, if one wants only one particular religion to dominate and define the overall character of Ladakh. But it indeed becomes a problem if that region is multi cultural and multi religious and by allowing it to be seen associated with one particular religion it becomes an affront to secular values of our country that celebrates unity in diversity.

After the trauma of partition that divided thousands of families in Baltistan part of Ladakh Wazarat, the newly formed Ladakh sub region of the state of Jammu & Kashmir that comprised of Leh & Kargil, should have been moulded into a new identity of a unified Ladakh; however contrary to that, there is a widespread belief in Kargil that instead of that, what has actually happened over last 6 decades since independence has been a total one sided focus on the development of Leh and almost step motherly treatment towards Kargil.

There is a massive feeling of disappointment in Kargil that this ignorance has sadly happened both from Srinagar as well as from Leh and it continues to happen till this day. More so, most people in Kargil believe that what should have been an even and simultaneous development of both Kargil and Leh since independence has instead turned into a systemic and comparatively spectacular economic and cultural growth of Buddhist Leh over and at the cost of Shia Muslim Kargil.

Unlike western part of the former Ladakh Wazarat, which was predominantly Shia / Noorbakshi, the Eastern part of the Ladakh Wazarat was predominantly Buddhist following a Ladakhi version of Tibetan Buddhism, with Leh as its largest city. Partially due to the efforts of the people of Leh themselves and partly boosted by increasing national and international interest in Leh because of closure of Chinese controlled Tibet after 1950s, which drove thousands of people from all over the world with a desire to study Tibetan Buddhism towards Leh instead, the Leh region virtually witnessed a “Buddhist tourism boom”. And deservedly, Leh region saw massive tourist infrastructure development. The Indo-China war of 60s and loss of Aksai Chin of Leh to China further attracted special attention of our central government and army towards developing Leh, which further gave an impetus to infrastructural and communicational development of Leh region.

While happy at the economic development of Leh, the people of Kargil started to feel that they were being left behind in the race to modernity and rapid economic growth, which was happening in other parts of J&K but had barely touched Kargil. Over the years, Leh developed at a fast rate and carved such an image of Ladakh in the minds of outside visitors that the name of the Ladakh region got synonymous with Leh or rather “Buddhist Leh”. Kargil just remained an unknown one night stopover for tourists, who would go to Leh from Srinagar via Kargil.

Kargil literally vied for attention from Srinagar for its share of economic development, which was largely ignored. A perception started developing in Leh that perhaps their Muslim faith and their adherence to Shia sect was the reason of discrimination from Srinagar and Leh. While Srinagar continued to refuse paying attention to the developmental woes of Kargil, the Leh unfortunately also seemed oblivious to the economic backwardness of Kargil and unwilling to share the fruits of economic development brought by tourism with Kargil.

Things were however soon to change for the awakening of the people of Kargil, when two events happened, one far away from Kargil and another at its door steps, which literally transformed the social and intellect paradigm of the Kargil region and its people.  That will be dealt in the 3rd and concluding part of this 3 part article.

Siddharatha Garoo, a native of Kashmir valley, who lives in Delhi and has interest in Central Asian region, writes a three part series on Ladakh region, which is the largest part of Jammu & Kashmir state and yet remains under the shadows of more dominant regions of Jammu and Kashmir valley. However in his article, he focuses on the less discussed inter-regional lopsided developmental and cultural attention paid to its Buddhist dominated Leh verses Muslim dominated Kargil.

Siddharatha is a graduate of Columbia University, New York as well as Harvard, Cambridge and Delhi University. He can be contacted at sgaroo@gmail.com.

Beyond administrative definition; understanding the cultural concept of “Ladakh”

By Siddharatha Garoo

Defining Ladakh is unfortunately one of the most complex issues for any social anthropologist because of the immense geographical, ethnic and religious diversity of the region and its close association with many Central Asian regions.

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A beautiful View of Jama Masjid in Kargil Town

Most people associate Ladakh with “Buddhist type” people having some connection with Tibet. And this is not entirely wrong because Ladakh is indeed an extension of Tibetan linguistic and cultural realm, but to call it a “Tibet proper” is something, which many Ladakhi would perhaps not agree.  The geographical isolation of the huge chunk of uninhabitable sub region of Aksai Chin has meant that while taking strong influences from Tibet, Ladakh has historically managed to evolve differently from mainland Tibet both religiously and politically and instead, Ladakh has had more influence of regions like Kashmir, Gilgit and Central Asia.

The historical Ladakh which was earlier a name of “wazarat” or principality actually comprised of two districts of Baltistan and Ladakh. These two districts were further comprised of many sub-cultural regions like Baltiyul, Purig pa, Dardistan and Leh. These were not strict geographical boundaries but were mutually permeable cultural entities, which together comprised of what was sometimes also called “The Greater Ladakh.”

The largest of this sub cultural entity was informally known as “ Baltistan”, the northern and most populous part of which today lies in the Pakistan administered region of Gilgit-Baltistan. This northern part of Baltistan was home to the Wazarat’s largest city of Skardu, which was also the cultural capital and trade hub of entire Baltistan. The “northern Baltistan” was ethnically and religiously mostly homogenous, with most of the people adhering to Shia faith and speaking Balti language (a pure and classical form of Tibetan). The only other religious group was that of Noorbakshi people, a distinct faith having strong connections with Shia Islam.

The Southern and less populated but religiously and ethnically more diverse part of Baltistan (“Southern Baltistan”) was home to people of Tibetan, Dardic as well as mix of Tibetan-Dardic communities. The largest city of southern Baltistan was Kargil, which was a small town as compared to Skardu. This part of Baltistan was close to Kashmir valley and had many ethnic communities like Baltis, Shin Dards, Aryan Drokpas and a mixed Balti-Shin community of Purig people, which is why this region was also sometimes called “Purig pa”. It was also religiously more diverse than northern Baltistan. Apart from Shia Muslims, the region also had Buddhists (Zanskar valley), Noorbakshis ( Dras valley), Aryan animists, Hindus and Sikhs.

The tumultuous event of 1947-48 divided Ladakh wazarat between India and Pakistan and charted out entirely different destinies for the two separated parts.  The northern part of Baltistan with a major cultural and trade centre of Skardu became part of what used to be called “Northern Areas” of Pakistan. The “Northern Areas” containing northern Baltistan along with Giglit agency and princely states of Hunza and Nagar later came to be known as Gilgit Baltistan, a name that properly reflected two of its major sub regions of Gilgit Agency & Northern Baltistan.  This region however could never attain the constitutional status of a province within Pakistan for reasons based entirely on political ambition of Pakistan to have eventual control over Kashmir valley.

The Southern Baltistan along with Leh sub region became part of the Jammu and Kashmir state, which together took the old name of Ladakh wazarat and came to be known as “Ladakh” sub region of Jammu & Kashmir. Over time, the Southern Baltistan carved its own unique identity by taking the name of the largest city of the sub region, Kargil and later went on to cultivate a new distinct identity as a “Kargili Ladakhi”.

Siddharatha is a graduate of Columbia University, New York as well as Harvard, Cambridge and Delhi University. He can be contacted at sgaroo@gmail.com.

Siddharatha Garoo, a native of Kashmir valley, who lives in Delhi and has interest in Central Asian region, writes a three part series on Ladakh region, which is the largest part of Jammu & Kashmir state and yet remains under the shadows of more dominant regions of Jammu and Kashmir valley. However in his article, he focuses on the less discussed inter-regional lopsided developmental and cultural attention paid to its Buddhist dominated Leh verses Muslim dominated Kargil.

The Employment “Mela” at Kargil: Will the ‘Guilty Party’ Please Stand Up?

The District Subordinate Service Recruitment Board (DSSRB), Kargil advertised General Line Teacher posts several timesin advertisement notice No: 02 of 2013 Dt: 26.02.2013 Item No. 01 and No: 03 of 2013 Dt: 04.05.2013 Item No. 01 and No: 04 of 2013 Dt: 14.09.2013 Item No. 01 and No: 02 of 2015 Dt: 16.05.2015 Item No. 01 of District Cadre Post Kargil.

At a time when unemployment is rampant and government job is very scarce (but well sought-after) in the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the teaching posts received 9076 applications against nearly 300 posts.The major chunk of the applications was apparently from undergraduate applicants, since the basic eligibility/qualification criterion was 10+2(!)

However, after a prolonged delay and much speculation about it the Deputy Director Employment and Counseling Centre Kargil,on 12 August, this year, came up with a notice asking the candidates to verify their original certificates/testimonials. This was a big relief for the unemployed candidates who were eagerly waiting for it. It was followed by a well drafted syllabus which was produced by the DSSRB and put up on the district website.

After nearly a month later the DSSRB office came with another notification which fixed the date of the screening test on 30th September. Surprisingly the face-to-face interview was not part of the recruitment scheme –which used to be there during previous recruitments (and also necessary for a post as important as teaching). The recruitment was separated into two steps, written examination and academic record.The weightage point scale criteria for recruitment was this: Written test 60 point. 15 points for 10+2 (basic eligibility criteria), 06 points for Graduation, 05 points for P.G., 05 points for B.Ed., 02 points for M.Ed., 02 points for M. Phil., 03 points for NET/SET/JRF, 02 points for Ph. D, which makes the total of 100 points.

Later, on 26 September, the office came with a notice announcing the venue which was the Khree Sultan Choo Sports Stadium, Beamathang. It also announces that the screening test will be in two shifts, 4000 in the morning and 5076 candidates in the afternoon shifts respectively. The notice categorically reads that “the written examination will not be postponed in any case except (bad) weather conditions”. Despite that, just a day before the scheduled date the office came with a notice in which the written examination was “postponed and re-scheduled” to 01 October, forcing many of the candidates to cancel their advance booking of train and airplane tickets who were travelling from outside of the district and state. There was no reason cited in the notice regarding the sudden postponement.

Finally, came the day of written test. The screening test was attended by 7000 applicants (combined both morning and afternoon shift).  The mega sitting arrangement reminded one of the typical community “mela” or fair in the true sense of the term. A candidate who appeared in the test called it “fish-market” referring to the fact that it was awfully “noisy”.

Applicants can see sitting for the Exam at Khri Sultan Cho Stadium at Byamathang Kargil
Applicants can be seen sitting for the Exam at Khri Sultan Cho Stadium at Byamathang Kargil

The sitting arrangement was extremely scary. There was no matting arrangement to sit and no temporary shelter to protect the sunlight, not to mention the absence of drinking water and sanitation facilities. Upon reaching at the venue candidates were asked to sit straight in a line alongside a rope. The candidates were then asked to keep a seven feet gap between each other which was literally measured by a measuring tape! Unexpectedly, there were no other signs of demarcation to mark out the rows or seating place. This resulted in a fury and noise among the candidates, which was understandable. Finally, the examiners managed to settle down the candidates’ hours after scheduled time.

The lack of sincerity of the authorities is apparent from the fact that there were only 23 supervisors and 23 assistant supervisors to supervise this sea of people. One wonders who stopped the administrative authorities from bringing in more supervisors knowing well that the allotted team won’t be sufficient to supervise more than 4000 candidates at a time.

A local news agency reports that ‘many candidates were mass copying, some were indulged in group discussions during the exam and many candidates were writing the paper in places where they found convenient and not where they were asked to sit’. There were cases of mobile phones being used and candidates were moving from one place to another in the middle of the examination. Despite all this the examination went on.

Youth Action Committee Kargil protest against the administration for miserably failing in conducting a “free and fair” screening test
Youth Action Committee Kargil protest against the administration for miserably failing in conducting a “free and fair” screening test

Immediately after the test on the same day, the Youth Action Committee Kargil rallied strong protest against the administration for miserably failing in conducting a “free and fair” screening test. Though, until now, it is getting a lukewarm response from the authorities. Nonetheless this should be a strong antidote against this kind of callousness. The candidates are consistently continuing their protest. They are demanding for a re-examination in such a way that would do justice to all the candidates equally. Most of them are now afraid that the authorities might come up with a list of selected candidates based on this ‘unacceptable’ and ‘objectionable’ screening test. If the authorities does so, which is highly unlikely keeping in mind the strong resentment from the candidates, then who is responsible for the unexpected outcome from it? If an undeserving candidate secures a seat and a deserving candidate is left out of the list, who is responsible? And who essentially is responsible for all this mess? So, to answer these pertinent and unavoidable questions will the ‘Guilty Party’ please stand up?

Written by A Kargili student at Delhi