Fear of Dominance in UT Ladakh

The Central Government in a significant decision bifurcated the State of Jammu and Kashmir among two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. People in Leh district of Ladakh welcomed the move and celebrated the “freedom from Kashmiri dominance”. While Kargil resented, fearing discrimination from Centre government and dominance of Leh. The contention seems to have shifted from earlier Kashmir-Ladakh to within communities in Ladakh on communal lines. The cold desert is now hot in politics.

Like other parts of India, Ladakh also has diverse communities, languages and cultures. But unlike many other regions in India, Ladakh has a history of co-existence, peace, inter-community marriages, gatherings, celebrations etc. The region Ladakh, now Union Territory, has two districts; Buddhist dominated Leh and Muslim dominated Kargil. But other religious minorities like Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and sectarian minorities like Sunnis and Noorbakshia also make a significant number in both the districts. Either by election or nomination, all these minorities and sects have ensured proper political representation in the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils (LAHDC). But after the reorganisation of the State, all is not well in Ladakh.

Few weeks before bifurcation of the State, all of a sudden, the Buddhist community of Zanskar region in Kargil embarked demand for a separate district. However, the demand intensified after the reorganisation move. On 17 August 2019, the Kargil wing of the Leh based Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA), in a letter to the Governor of the State Satyapal Malik complained over political marginalisation of Buddhist minorities in the district. After a harsh reply by Sheikh Nazir-ul-Mehdi Mohammadi, President of Anjuman e Ulema e Isna-Ashriya Kargil (influential Muslim organisation), the situation in Kargil became tense. The LBA Leh in another letter to Home Minister alleged Sheikh Nazir of “infusing communal hatred” against Buddhist minority.

On 20 September, the Youth Wing of the LBA Leh in a letter to Home Minister Amit Shah misrepresented Kargil saying that they (Kargil) have “decided to demand that Kargil should be merged with J&K UT”. Going further they “urge(d)” the Central Government to merge Kargil with J&K UT and the Buddhist dominated areas in Kargil with Leh. The letter also demanded to join Lahul Spiti from Himachal Pradesh into newly formed Ladakh UT. One would easily understand what is hatching behind all this hue and cry; a Buddhist dominated Union Territory.

These series of letter, carrying demands on communal lines, infused a sense of fear among other communities also. In a press conference, the Noorbakshia (considered a sect of Shia Islam) community in Leh complained over discrimination in the district. The community also demanded a separate district and more representation in the LAHDC Leh. Earlier, when Zanskar’s demand for separate district soared, people from Drass sub-division in Kargil district also marked a considerable protest demanding separate district for themselves. The Drass subdivision contains a huge population of Sunni Muslims.

Recently, in another significant move, the government approved a Medical College, Cricket Academy and a 200 Bed hospital; but all in Leh. Kargil saw it as discrimination what they feared from day one of bifurcation of the State. The Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust (influential organisation in Kargil) and the District Congress Committee in separate press releases protested against the “discriminatory” approach. Few weeks before, the Joint Action Committee Kargil was assured by the Governor and Chief Secretary both of no discrimination between Leh and Kargil. The Chairman of the Legislative Assembly Haji Anayat Ali who recently joined BJP also had assured people in Kargil of not getting discrimination from Central government. This recent granting of three developments all in Leh is seen as a betrayal in Kargil.

Most of the communities in Ladakh have a sense of insecurity of dominance by another group. This insecurity is leading towards discord and conflict. Amit all this, discriminatory approach, allegations and subsequent exchange of harsh words lead to erosion of tradition of co-existence and peace among different communities in the sparsely populated cold desert. The government, after taking such an extreme step like bifurcation, also has the responsibility to take early preventive measures to avoid any confrontation in the border region. The community elders in Ladakh also have an obligation to appease their respective communities and refrain from any provoking words towards other communities.

 

Anwar Ali Tsarpa is a resident of Ladakh. He is a research scholar at the Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not
necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Ladakh Express team.

How Civilised Gar-Khil Welcomed Anil Ali? A Political Satire!

More than 300 BJP Karyakartas (workers) with 150 vehicles warmly received Haji Anil Ali in Gar-Khil after joining the Bhagt Janata Party (BJP). Addressing the gathering at TFC Kargil, Anil astonishingly said that he had never thought that BJP would get such warm welcome in Gar-Khil. 

Among more than 300 BJP workers and supporters, few clerics were also seen hugging, touching cheeks, rubbing shoulders and congratulating him. The clerics actively followed the tradition that asks, not to hate the sinner but the sin. But they forgot the tradition that asks to, not side with oppressors and tyrants. However, people after a long time got a topic to show their anger, piousness, enthusiasm, wit, linguistic skills and many more. 

The 4G internet has civilised people in Gar-Khil. They know how to salute a person with words mingled with mother-sister. They are speedy to turn pages from history to check once’s Janam Kundli. This civilised tradition is a new lesson for people in Gar-Khil. Anil Ali has demonstrated what he is. But what about hundreds of people who are reflecting their background with his words on social media?

Since the beginning, he (Anil) has struggled alone on all fronts, Anil self-pro-claimed. Like faku NaMo, he forgot the fact that Youth Wing was his launch pat towards his social and political carrier. He had support from religious organisations in his social and political carrier. Now that support is negligible against his image as a BJP Karikarta. After all, how much he has struggled and learned from his political journey would come to know if you listen to his speech carefully. 

He said when whole India has no problem with BJP why Gar-Khil should keep themselves departed. On this, a Sheikh whispered on my smooth cheeks behind the right ear, “We must depart ourselves like the 72 in Karbala who departed themselves from whole Kufa and Sham”. I replied, “Sheikh Sahab, Kahen bhi Shuru ho jatay ho, he is Anil Ali, not Anayat Ali”. Sheikh Sahab: “O, Acha”.

Anil Ali further said, “there is no choice for us other than the BJP”. Yes, for slaves and Karikartas choice is limited to BJP; but dignified communities have many other options, to resist, to protest, to descent and to believe in the democratic power transition.  He further proclaimed that his struggle and dedication has made him a “Khatarnak” (dangerous) man. It seems that he has shared some meal with the Bhagts; because he has learned to flex muscles over political opponents and those who descent. He threatened to take action not via local administration but from “Centre”. After all, by this statement, his opponents must know that his bread is coming from the government at Centre.

It would be interesting to know what reward is awaiting for him for his loyal obedience as BJP Karikarta. Let’s wait!

Rethinking UT Ladakh

One who accepts or reject things without any reason is out of rational human category says Rumi.

The Central Government in a significant decision bifurcated the State of Jammu and Kashmir among two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. People in Leh district welcomed the move while Kargil resented. The decision fuelled debates in both the districts over the pros and cons of the new order. Community elders in Leh conducted a meeting, and Kargil formed a Joint Action Committee. The advocates of UT argue that Ladakh can move ahead and fulfil its aspirations as Ladakh region and not as a subsidiary of any other part. This author argues that Ladakh, as a unit, will always remain subsidiary to either Central (as UT) or State (as region) government. Ladakh has to decide on the appropriate one. The below points would determine what is necessary: UT or Statehood?

First, thinkers argue that “cultural distinctiveness, strategic importance and special treatment and care of the backward and tribal people are very much applicable for creation of Union Territory of Ladakh”. The former J&K State with special status fulfils the three consideration; so, this reason stands null. J&K State with special status had protected them all. However, now in the new order called UT, protection of any such kind is not guaranteed. Including Ladakh in Scheduled Tribal Area is uncertain because the reorganisation bill mentions nothing about it. Thus, the argument “Union Territory is good” has many “ifs” and “buts”. If we are protected under Scheduled Tribe Area; if our land remains protected under Fifth Schedule; if our jobs are protected are all uncertain. Losing a thing in hand for something unpredictable is not rational.

Secondly, to fight for the above-said protections, Ladakh’s pressure is very ineffective as they are small in number. But to fight for the restoration of Special Status of J&K is much easier as they have a more significant like-minded force in Kashmir, Jammu, activists in other parts of the country and an international community. In future also, if Ladakh needs to make pressure on authorities for any demand, they would be incapable. In a state, a region like Ladakh can quickly build pressure because of being one-third of the State. But it will be difficult for a small UT like Ladakh to pressurise the government in Delhi. In a State, Ladakh could aspire in both Legislation and Parliament. Besides, the State also would fight for their demands. This reorganisation move has declined Ladakh’s strength.

Thirdly, Ladakh is demanding all the protections that they had under the Special Status of Jammu and Kashmir. Leh leaders, by advocating for changes in Article 370 has led to the removal of similar protections from Kashmir and Jammu, but they are demanding the same for themselves, which is unethical and selfishness. According to some Kargili leaders, such “wicked policy” is not what their “Vichar Dhara” taught.

Fourthly, on share in annual Budget, Ladakh as Division in the State of J&K is much benefitted than as a Union Territory. Other Union territories without legislation, like Daman and Diu (2.43 Lakh population), with an area of 111 sq. km got 821.48 crores in Annual Budget 2018-19; Dadra and Nagar Haveli (3.44 Lakh) with an area of 491 sq. km got 1177.99 Crore. Another Union territory with Legislation, Puducherry (12.48 Lakh) with an area of 490 sq. km got 1601 Crore. Ladakh (2.74 lakh) has a total area of 59146 sq. km gets three to five times more than other UTs.

J&K Budget used to divide in the ratio of 70:30 percent. Thirty per cent is for district plan under which both Leh and Kargil gets 100 Crore each. In the remaining 70 percent of the total budget (80313 Crore in 2018-19), that makes approx. 56000 Crore, Ladakh as a separate division entitled to at least 30 percent. But if they get only 10 percent, even then Ladakh entitled for 5600 Crore which is four to five times more than the Budget for other Union Territories. Here Ladakh have to realise what they have lost.

Fifth, some argue that employees would get an increment in Salaries. Employees would indeed get an increase in salaries but at a prohibitive cost. Ladakh as UT, if fail to get land protection, its demography will change. Lands will be polluted; water is already scarce, and polluted air would be dangerous in an already dry climate. Unemployment will increase. People’s purchasing power will decline, and the products will be expensive. So, in such a situation, an increase in wage has no meaning.

Sixth, in the recently declared Divisional Status, and the delimitation of 2024, Ladakh entitled to more MLCs, MLAs, MPs and at least one member in the Rajya Sabha also. But now Ladakh is degraded from a State to Union Territory, that too without legislation. Ladakh lost political rights. Youths’ political aspirations have usurped.

Seventh, one major mistake, most of the leaders in Ladakh and Jammu is to look Article 370 and 35A as protection of Kashmir region only. Maharaja Hari Singh initiated the essential part of the Article, restriction on the purchase of land by outsiders, in 1927 for protection of Jammu region from wealthy outsider merchants. These restrictions are for the good of the whole State irrespective of region. Its abrogation or change expose land, culture, identity and language to external threats and pollution.

Eighth, abrogation/change of Article 370 and 35A gives the Centre government an upper hand to do whatever they want with Ladakh. For greater national interest, Ladakh might be forced to merge with another country like Pakistan or China. It is not impossible; because under the Land Boundary Agreement 2015 between India and Bangladesh, India transferred 17158 acres of land (111 villages) along with a population of 37369 to Bangladesh. For a broader national interest history could repeat in Ladakh as well.

Legally defining, this move has challenged in the Supreme Court. As per constitutional experts, this decision wronged in many aspects. There is every chance to restore it if the court order comes in favour. If not restored, resisting against this decision would lead Ladakh to a higher negotiation value; probably UT with legislation. Thus, this author suggests not to bow immediately. Show patience; resist the move; aspire for a much greater share.

This article was firstly appeared in the Weekly Voice of Ladakh on 09 September 2019, Volume 7 | Issue 32. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not
necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Ladakh Express team.

KARGILI YOUTH ON MISSION

I’m not sure what is the exact ratio. But the overwhelmed stories on Instagram and Facebook pose that every next youth on vacation in Kargil is either on tour, bike riding, picnic, dancing, rolling in market, parties etc. They must have the liberty to do all this; because these hardworking youth are tired of playing PUB-G, Ludo and tik-tok videos that they have played for past ten months in Jammu, Delhi and Chandigarh.

They promised while being in students’ association to conduct counselling and educational events while in Kargil for vacations. But, in good deeds, bounties accumulate once you wish; so, need not be practical.

After all, what they are doing is also productive. They are the ambassadors from different cities like Jammu, Delhi and Chandigarh to civilise the uncivilised people in Kargil. People in Kargil don’t know how to dance, how to conduct parties, what to do on picnic. So, these guys are playing a vital role in teaching them.

How uncivilised the people in Kargil are? They conduct boring birthday parties with food and supplications. Thus, a group of “educated” guys have launched a video of floor dance. Don’t miss to watch that.

The clerics are also right in being silent over these issues. Don’t say anything to these civilised English-speaking youth. They are the future of Kargil. Let them do whatever they want. After all they are on a mission to civilise the uncivilised people of Kargil.

All the best guys. Complete your mission soon. After that you have to get back to PUB-G and Ludo mission!

Kargil must protect intangible assets

3 minutes read

Since Ladakh declared a Union Territory and particularly after few so-called leaders joined BJP, we have observed a steep upsurge in comments and discussion among people of Kargil. Few things need to contextualise in this context. Why people in Kargil, in comparison to other districts and societies, concerned more on social issues? Are this concern and uproar useful or problematic? Questions like this are a matter of research for social science students.

In issues like that of the university, divisional status, Union Territory, airport etc. we have seen people in Kargil quickly responding for their social concerns. In village life also people are cooperative; villagers extend encouragement, economic support, human resource support etc. to each other in need. Students from Kargil studying in other cities also stay together in the form of associations and organisations. All these shows that people in Kargil have a strong bonding with each other. This bonding results in their concern for their common social, economic and daily issues.

From where this bonding came from? Ethnographic observation of villages in Kargil brings to the conclusion that villages in Kargil have frequent festive and religious gatherings. Festive gatherings like marriage, celebrations of birth, death anniversaries, Mindok Rgyaspa, Mamani, Losar; religious congregations like Moharram, Eid, Orchay etc. tie people like pearls in a thread. These frequent gatherings allow them to know each other concerns and happiness. That is why a prominent leader had said, “Whatever we have is from Ashura and Imam Hussain (a.s.)”.

These bonding cause easy assemble, gathering and response to any common social concern. In a society where people are concerned and aware of their rights could hardly exploit by others. The unity and interest among people in Kargil saved the community over issues like Divisional Status and University. If unity persists, God Willing Kargil will triumph in the current struggle against the imposition of Union Territory.

It means that these concerns are intangible assets of society. Societies that have active people, concerned minds, throbbing hearts, restless bodies could protect their interest and values from external and internal threats. This bonding is an asset; SAVE IT!

A primary concern that needs attention from the whole society is to save this bonding from spoilers. Who are spoilers? Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, PUBG, Tik Tok, and wastage of time with mobile will spoil your bonding with other people around you. If you waste your time with these things, you will not get enough time to spend with your kith and kin.

So, these concerns and throbbing hearts for each other are blessings and bounties. In current situations, instead of spoiling your anger and anxiety in social media gossips; fruitful discussions, policy formation and positive actions will be better for the whole society.

Buddhist – Muslim discord in Kargil: Things you need to know?

A controversy has been erupted in Kargil district of Ladakh when the Buddhist community of the District demanded separate district for Buddhist majority villages. The Buddhist Community of Kargil in a letter to Governor demanded separate district for Buddhist majority areas.

Following the statement, reaction from both the influential Shia Muslim organisations became public on Friday prayers.

On Friday (23 August 2019) prayers President of Anjuman e Ulema e Isna Ashriya Kargil, Sheikh Nazir ul Mehdi said:

Sheikh-Nazir-Ul-Mehdi-Mohammadi
Sheikh Nazir ul Mehdi speaking on an occasion. The image is old and symbolic.

The Buddhist Association of Kargil in a letter to Governor has maintained that (villages) Bodh Kharboo, Wakha, Shargole, Garkone etc consist of 14 villages should grant status of a separate district as people of Kargil oppress them. This is what they have given us as return for our good behaviour with them. A perfect example of Sharafat ka Najaiz Faida. As much as we showed respect to them, they crossed every boundary. They have mentioned that the (Hill Development) Council, Border Development (etc.) gives them nothing.  They are not allowed to construct Sarai and Gonpa (monastery) etc. After all they have included all lies. If we look in reality there is no single Buddhist village without road. However, many Muslim villages likes Itchu, Sharchay etc have no road yet. They always exaggerate things. I would like to communicate them today; if they want to create discontent and conflict in the society, we will not allow them to do so. Listen, with your open ears. If we want, we can observe Ashura (procession of 10th Day of Moharram) in Bodh Kharboo, Zanskar. Do justice and live with justice. The development in Buddhist areas is much better than other areas of the district. I appeal the administration also to stop such kind of distorts. If anything, displeasure embarks unwantedly, you will be responsible for that.

 

On the same Friday, Chairman of IKMT, Sheikh Sadiq Rajai said in this regard:

Sheikh Rajai
Sheikh Sadiq Rajai speaking on Friday. The image is old and symbolic.

Amid the anxiety in J&K that is caused by reorganisation of the State, some other issues have been deliberately raised to neglect the former one. Beware that it could be a wicked deliberate attempt. Don’t circulate and listen to rumours. Now they (Buddhists) have said that the Kargili Shia community has not allowed them to construct Monastery. This is a baseless statement. Wherever there is Buddhist settled, Monastery has already constructed and functional. If someone ask to construct a mosque at a place in Jhalandar where no Muslim are settled, what would they say? Obviously, their reply will be, why you need Mosque here as there is no Muslim? If in a Buddhist area I ask to construct a Mosque what would you say? You will reply, why you need Mosque here? Similarly, your demand for a Monastery in a complete Muslim area is ridiculous. Then tell me; is this a genuine issue or politically motivated? Their elders have said many times that they have a land at a certain area where they want to construct a Monastery. When saw in official records it was declared as a land of Sarai not Monastery. (Haji Hussain told that the said land is disputed between two communities. The court has also declared it as Sarai rather than Monastery.)

Secondly, you have alleged that Muslim youths have converted immature girls from your community. This is weakness of your religion. They are not immature but they have sensed that this (Islam) religion is safe and appropriate for them. They did not convert for us (Muslims) but for this religion (Islam). Ask these girls; they say that, Islam gives cleanliness, honour, respect and dignity. If you give a minor comparative literature review of Islam and your religion, you will understand the fact.

You further say that we did not eat with you. Yes, this is true, because our religion did not allow us for that. Why we don’t eat. You must conduct a scientific study on that. Islam did not permit Alcohol and Carrion (Murthar meat). Even in Halal meat we don’t eat 15 things/ parts. Because these, according to Islam, are not fit for health of a man. You drink Alcohol and eat carrion and even after that ask us to eat along with you.

Obviously, your girls will embrace Islam. The number is very few because of your restrictions. If restrictions are removed from their free will to study Islam, the number will be overwhelmed. Don’t you have the tradition of polyandry? These religious obligations are not acceptable to mind also. These minor girls screamed for their rights and freedom. We are free from such filthiness. According to some traditions of your religion washing with water is disapproval. We are obliged to perform ablution (Wuzu) five times in a day. We are obliged to perform lavation (Ghusul) of the whole body if we are on Janabat (impurity caused by discharge of semen). You must understand why we perform ablution, Ghusul; why we refrain from alcohol and carrion. If you do not refrain from them, we will refrain from sharing meal with you. We welcome you to read our holy book Quran and Nahjul Balagha. These books are guidance for you (non-Muslims) as well, not only for us (Muslims).

I encourage the clerics to answer such misunderstandings with preaching and rational discussion. I appeal you all to not create misperception, rumours and discord in the society, if you want to coexist peacefully.

After the statement of Sheikh Nazir, a letter bearing number LBA/M-19/1215-23 on LBA’s letter head appeared on Social Media. The letter addressed to the Home Minister Amit Shah by the Ladakh Buddhist Association alleged Organisations in Kargil particularly Sheikh Nazir of infusing communal hatred among people of Kargil against Buddhist Community. (Below is the letter)

LBA Leh on S Nazir statement

LBA Leh on S Nazir statement 2

 

 

Understanding UT LADAKH

new-ut-ladakh

By: Dr MNM Shabani

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

These words of the man who was instrumental in gaining us liberty from two centuries of slavery is very much relevant to our times now specifically to the leadership and people of my homeland Kargil.

Under Article 1 of the Constitution, the territory of India comprises three categories of which only two territories as territories of the states and union territories are in existence. At present there are twenty eight states and nine union territories as the state of Jammu and Kashmir is substituted with two union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh. The states are the members of the federal system in India and share a distribution of power with the Centre while the union territories, on the other hand, are those areas which are under the direct control and administration of the Central government hence also known as centrally administered territories.

THE JAMMU AND KASHMIR REORGANISATION BILL, 2019 paved way for creation of union territory Ladakh as with the introduction of this bill the very special status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir stands abrogated with two third majority in both the houses of parliament. The conferment of Union Territory Ladakh is welcomed in Leh district but in Kargil the leadership as well as people are unable to express a vivid discourse hence am compelled to write this article for better understanding of the concept myself as well as for the educated youth so that our discourses is based on reasons rather than emotions.

The union territories have been created for a variety of reasons such as Political and Administrative consideration – Delhi and Chandigarh, Cultural distinctiveness – Puducherry, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Strategic importance – Andaman and Nicobar islands, Special treatment and care of the backward and tribal people – Lakshadweep. The three objects of cultural distinctiveness, strategic importance and special treatment and care of the backward and tribal people are very much applicable for creation of Union Territory of Ladakh, however, the STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS of the bill states that “The Ladakh Division of the State of Jammu and Kashmir has a large area but is sparsely populated with a very difficult terrain. There has been long pending demand of people of Ladakh, to give it the status of a Union Territory to enable them to realise their aspirations. The Union Territory of Ladakh will be without Legislature. ”  The object of large area, sparsely populated and difficult terrain is another distinctive nature of Ladakh considered for granting Union Territory beside a long pending demand.

Historical account of Ladakh do  reveal that the leadership of Leh district demanded the status of Union Territory right from the beginning of Independence but after bifurcation of Ladakh into Kargil and Leh district in the year 1979 no such demand was ever made by the leadership and people of Kargil district. Kargil district denounced the demand of Union Territory as Leh district’s object of demanding is to liberate from Kashmir centric political setup and Kargil historically always preferred Kashmir.  This inculcated a wrong spirit among the people of Kargil that any demand of more empowerment by the people of Leh will result in disassociation with Kashmir hence the leadership of Kargil remained very sceptical and insensitive to demands like Schedule Tribe and LAHDC status but later hugged seeing the benefits of it. Intensive projection of demands on communal grounds and apathy of Leh leadership towards Kashmir whereas a strong association and linkage of people of Kargil with Kashmir and with strong political association of Kargil with Kashmir based political parties always created sense of insecurity among people of Kargil to avail better opportunities in fear that they will be disown by political hierarchy of Kashmir. The association remained so strong that even being majority Muslim population in the district, people of Kargil never supported or shown inclination to any idea of separation from Indian state. The Kargil war of 1999 was also an instrumental opportunity for people of Kargil to exemplify their sense of nationalism and devotion to their mother land but was unable to capitalise their sacrifice into economic consideration from the Central government purely due to lack of strong political linkages with the Central government as well as ineffective leadership.

The year 2018-2019 seems good omen for the region Ladakh and in particular to district Kargil as significant development witnessed in regard to new political and administrative aspiration. United Kargil effort and more enthusiasm as compared to Leh in demanding Central University for Ladakh was an important shift of religious and political organisations of district Kargil thereby immediate rectification by state government of equal share in administrative setup of University of Ladakh Act,2018; the divisional status granted to Ladakh and its aftermath when during chilling winters of January 2019 the whole Kargil united came out on street expressing their resentment for injustice done and the massive rally in winter capital of the state amazed not only the state government but even the Centre that people of Kargil do now believe that they cannot be ignored or marginalised by any dispensation whatsoever of political ideology as far as their right of equal share and participation is guaranteed. Such events are rare in the history of political and administrative aspiration of Kargil and this need to be further directed and strengthen. The achievement so made was due to effective coordination, consultation with stakeholders and collective participation beside wide differences among different religious and political groups prevails. The historic dispensation of Divisional Status to Ladakh and proportionate share to both the district in administrative control has further the belief that Ladakh gets it due share when the state is controlled by the Central government whereas the popular government in the state of any political party would never have thought of such greater administrative autonomy as of the status of Divisional Status. If budget statistics of State Sector over the years are surfed we being the third region of the state got peanuts from the popular successive governments and our political leaderships are witnessed to it.  These are the very instances which must be always remembered by the people of Kargil and its political and religious leadership that we can move ahead and fulfil our aspiration as Ladakh region and not as a subsidiary of any other region. The gain of Union Territory Ladakh thus needs a different outlook and understanding than what we as of now.

It’s very evident that divisional status is a greater administrative autonomy and thereby Union Territory is highest except to the State status as far as better administrative control, economic prosperity and accessibility but due to the distinctiveness of the region both the district must be united to chalk out the modalities so that many reservations as well as safeguards which were available to our region under special status of the state could be the part of Union Territory of Ladakh. Under the constitution of India many other States as well as Union Territories are conferred with such provisions to safeguard their distinctive identity and culture.

Article 244 in Part X of the Constitution envisages a special system of administration for certain areas as designated as ‘scheduled areas’ and ‘tribal areas’. The Constitution, under Sixth Schedule, contains special provisions for the administration of tribal areas in the four north-eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. The tribal areas in these states are treated differently by the Constitution and sizeable amount of autonomy has been given to these people for self-government due to the fact that these tribal areas have not assimilated much the life and ways of other people in these states, on the other hand, still have their roots in their own culture, customs and civilizations. These tribal areas have been constituted autonomous districts of similar nature of LAHDC and enjoy privileges and safeguards so that their cultural and tribal distinctiveness remains protected. Shifting of Autonomous District Council to Regional Council under Union Territory Ladakh will be a milestone in promoting coexistence among different cultural, religious and linguistic identities of the region. The district or regional councils shall have power to make laws with respect to and can make laws on certain specified matters like land, forests, canal water, shifting cultivation, village administration, inheritance of property, can construct or manage primary schools, dispensaries, markets, roads and so on and are empowered to assess and collect land revenue and to impose certain specified taxes. In regard to land which is the biggest worry of every Ladakhi the Sixth Schdeule staes as: the allotment, occupation or use or the setting apart, of land, other than any land which is reserved forest for the purposes of agriculture or grazing or for residential or other non-agricultural purposes or for any other purpose likely to promote the interests of the inhabitants of any village or town, administer the areas under their jurisdiction. Further, The same Schedule to the Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2003, Additional powers of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council and the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council to make laws with respect to (a) Industries (b) Communication (c) Live Stocks (d) Primary and Secondary Education (e) Agriculture (f) Fisheries (g) Water (h) Social Security & Employment (i) Flood Control Schemes (j) Sports, Entertainment & Amusements (k) Public Health & Sanitation, Hospital & Dispensaries (l) minor irrigation (m) Trade & Commerce (n) Libraries & Museum.  In addition in the same Schedule the Bodoland Territorial Council within its areas shall have power to make laws in addition to areas mentioned earlier: (a) Cooperation (b) Cultural Affairs (c) Education including vocational and College Education (d) Food and Civil Supply (e) Handloom & Textile (f) Labour & Employment (g) Market Affairs (h) Municipal Corporations, Local Authorities (i) Panchayat & Rural Development (j) Planning & Development (k) Printing & Stationery (l) Public Health Engineering (m) Public Works Department (n) Publicity & Public Relations (o) Relief & Rehabilitations (p) Social Welfare (q) Soil Conservation (r) Statistics (s) Tourism (t) Urban Development. All the stated privileges can be availed by including the whole Ladakh region in Scheduled Tribal Area under Sixth Schedule. As per THE JAMMU AND KASHMIR REORGANISATION BILL, 2019 under TABLE-4 includes LADAKH AUTONOMOUS HILL DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL ACT, 1997 as State Acts including Governor’s Act that shall remain in force in Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir; and Union Territory of Ladakh. Both the Autonomous Councils must coordinate and collectively put forth the demand for strengthening existing LAHDC Act and inclusion of above provisions which were extended to the other Autonomous Councils of Cachar, Karbi Anglong and Bodoland. THE JAMMU AND KASHMIR REORGANISATION BILL, 2019 under para 66 states that the Constitution Jammu and Kashmir (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1989, shall stand applied to the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union territory of Ladakh. On the basis of same legislation wherein around 84% population belongs to Scheduled Tribe, Ladakh region may be included under Sheduled Tribe Area under Sixth Schedule to avail the stated benefits of Scheduled Tribe Area.

Articles 371 to 371-J in part XXI of the constitution contain special provisions for twelve states. The intention behind them is to meet the aspirations of the people of backward regions of the states or to protect the cultural and economic interests of the tribal people of the states or to deal with the disturbed law and order condition in some parts of the states or to protect the interests of the local people of the states. The Union Territory of Ladakh has become vulnerable and needs safeguard measures as envisage in the constitution. The largest area and sparsely populated is a very distinctive feature of the region and without certain protection the demography of the region is at stake. There is immense anxiety among the population that with new legislation there will be massive influx of trade, industry and commerce as well as of people who are alien to the cultural, religious and traditional ethos of Ladakhis which they have always upheld for centuries. Our region does have a very fragile ecology and environmental condition which needs traditional approach to tackle with. Rapid industrialisation in the region and increase in density of population will adversely impact socio cultural fabric. A narrow population of around 300 thousand souls will be exposed to minority risk unless land ownership and employment rights are not protected as government and defence jobs are the only service industry available to Ladakhis which provide maximum employment opportunities. All these concerns of the people need to be safeguarded within the ambit of Constitution as the stated articles do honour. Article 371 provides for adequate employment opportunities in respect of stated areas in Maharashtra and Gujrat, 371-A provides for ownership and transfer of land and its resources to Nagaland, 371-G provides for ownership and transfer of land and its resources to Mizoram, 371-J provides for reservation of seats in educational and vocational training institutions in the region for students who belong to the region and reservation in state government posts in the region for persons who belong to the region of Hyderabad-Karnataka region.

In para 83. (1) of THE JAMMU AND KASHMIR REORGANISATION BILL, 2019 it is mentioned that the award of Fourteenth Finance Commission be apportioned between the two Union Territories on the basis of population ratio and other parameters. Representatives of the region must project to the concerned committee that due share must be apportioned to Union Territory of Ladakh not on the basis of population ratio alone but more consideration on the basis of scattered population and large area of the region as in the same para (2) specifically mentions that the Central Government may, having regard to the resource available to the successor Union territory of Ladakh make appropriate grants and also ensure that adequate benefits and incentives in the form of special development package are given to the backward area of this region. The representation must also deal with the issues of generation of hydro as well as solar power energy from the region as the region is rich in its natural capacities of power generation. An adequate employment opportunity as well as share of revenue to the consolidated fund of Union Territory of Ladakh for its further development needs to be guaranteed. In the same manner, as per para 85. (1) (e) issues related to facilities in certain State Institutions, the representation from the region must ensure that the existing facilities available to the region in terms of admission in medical colleges, universities and in other technical institute must continue until the proper infrastructure and facilities are not developed within the Union Territory of Ladakh. Due consideration is also required for special provisions to the students and aspirants of the   Union Territory Ladakh in terms of reservation and admission in different institutes of importance all over the country. It is pertinent to mention that University of Ladakh must be converted into full-fledged university directly under the ambit of MHRD instead of existing cluster university status and all the colleges in existence must be the constituent colleges of the University of Ladakh. In view of the large number of faculties in higher education department the representatives must ensure immediate creation of posts in newly established colleges as well as increase in number of teaching posts in two prime colleges of Leh and Kargil. Emphasis is needed to augment the infrastructure of educational sector in special reference as education is the only major contributory of employment opportunities in the region. In reference to para 93 (2) wherein The Union Public Service Commission will serve the needs of the Union Territory of Ladakh; effective representation must be made by both LAHDCs that the concerned DSSRBs be empowered for recruitment up to the grade of undersecretary level within the Union Territory of Ladakh. The Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education Act, 1975 which continues in the Union Territory of Ladakh must be gradually replaced with Central Board of School Education; however, the academic calendar must be framed considering the climatic condition of Union Territory of Ladakh. In the interest of students and issues pertaining to their scholarship the Tribal Affairs department must be established under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and ample scholarship opportunities under the Ministry of Minority Affairs is extended as the Union Territory of Ladakh comprises the majority tribal and minority.

Employees are one of the major stakeholders and in new legislation their interest needs to be safeguarded. All the benefits which are available to a central employee are extended to the existing employees of Union Territory of Ladakh. The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004 extended to Union Territory of Ladakh must increase the percentage of reservation for the schedule tribe and the roaster for reservation in promotion must consider the proportion of Scheduled Tribe population ratio within the Union Territory of Ladakh. The General Provident Fund assets need to be converted into Central Provident Fund for the enhance security of enhancement and benefit to the employees. Special concessions need to be availed for all employees working on temporary basis under different departments. Special provision must replace SRO 202 and SRO 520.

I do assert that whatever quoted in this article is merely going through various provisions of the law. Neither I a student of Law nor the student of political science but being an academician and feeling the sense of ambiguity among the people of Kargil in particular and among the present leadership it’s a humble endeavour to bring clarity for myself and the people. It is very much obvious that the researchers, scholars and experts on subject will find many flaws in content as well as interpretation that need immediate rectification hence intensive critical analysis is required. Humbly request the readers to give their valuable feedback so that the document is made more relevant to understand the new structure of Union Territory of Ladakh.

Alas, as a native of this district I advocate all of us to move ahead on the basis of reasons and judicious arguments rather than on the basis of ignorance and emotions. We are well aware that neither we were party to this decision nor our wishes were consulted and we are not in a position to undo things. There is a wide economic gap between the two district of this region and that has to be minimised under the Union Territory of Ladakh. Leh district has always remained centre of administration and policy making right from the time of Dogra rule and has gained significance in all areas of development. It remained district headquarter for three decades in independent India and on the other side Kargil got district status in the year 1979 and it took another decade to function as a district. Whatever development and prosperity we are witnessing is just after Kargil war of 1999 which gave recognition and importance to this part of Ladakh. The imbalance in terms of all around development between the two districts will further get widened due to new legislation as it’s very much evident that the already developed district will accelerate its development at a higher pace and the developing district have to concentrate more on development of infrastructure and basic necessities. The formal and informal leadership of the district as well the government must at the first instance articulate policies to minimise the structural imbalances within the territory and special package be granted for the backward areas of district Kargil as assured in para 83. (2) of the bill. Our leaders and masses must put forth the demand of early construction of Zojila Tunnel, Civil air services, extension of Kargil town on Kurbathang plateau beside extensive infrastructure development in all sectors. The religious as well as political organisations of the district must collectively constitute a panel of resourceful persons of different expertise and calibre so that it serves a platform for threadbare discussion and consultation to move on the road ahead. The cloud of hopelessness and disparity must shirk away, let’s spread the light of hope and optimism and spirit to compete in right perspective. Allah says: Man is not but he strives.

The author Dr MNM Shabani is an Assistant Professor in Commerce at Govt. Degree College, Kargil.

*Suggestions, counter arguments, critical analysis as well any sort of corrections required is solicited on his email: nasirshabanikgl@gmail.com.

UT Ladakh: Important Dates and Events

29 October 2019:

Call for 3-days-long Shutdown and protest

The Joint Action Committee Kargil in a public notice called for three-day long strike over not fulfilling the demands that were earlier assured by the Governor and Chief Secretary both in meeting with the JAC.

The public notice said that on 29 October all business, educational institutions, government offices will observe complete shutdown. However, the transport facility will remain open for the convenience of candidates appearing in entrance exam of various posts.

On 30 October all government offices, schools and businesses will observe complete shutdown. In the evening a candle march will conduct from Jama Masjid to Islamia School Chowk after the Maghrebain prayers. At the end the Secretary of the JAC will address the gathering.

On 31 October all Kargil will remain complete shutdown and people will assemble in Kargil city for a mass protest.

JAC Strike Call 27 Oct

It is pertinent to mention that the former Governor Satyapal Malik and Chief Secretary in separate meeting with the Joint Action Committee Kargil had assured to fulfil the 14-point agenda in the aftermath of granting Union Territory status to Ladakh.

People in Kargil seems to be ejected due to “discriminative” approach from the central government.

30 August 2019:

JAC met with Governor, Chief Secretary

The Chief Secretary met with a delegation of the Joint Action Committee and assured to fulfill their demands. The JAC presented a 14 point agenda to the Chief Secretary that are earlier known to be kept secret from the pubic.

The CEC Feroz Khan in an interview to media has disclosed the 14-points that are presented to the Governor and Chief Secretary. Pertinent to mention that the Governor Satyapal Malik also in a meeting with JAC has assured to fulfill the demands and indiscriminate development of both the districts in Ladakh.

17 August 2019:

On the inaugural day of the Aadi Mahotsav (9-day Tribal Festival) at Leh
Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Sh. Arjun Munda mentioning about unique cultural identity of Ladakh, assured to take every possible steps to protect the ethnic identity, values of culture and other morals and interests of this region at all cost.

 

 

View this post on Instagram

*9-day Tribal festival goes to a colourful start at Leh* . Leh: August 17: Aadi Mahotsav (Tribal Festival) a joint initiative of the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED), Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India went off to a colourful start at Polo Ground Leh-Ladakh, here today. . Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Sh. Arjun Munda formally inaugurated the festival here today by lighting the lamp after taking a round of the venue interacting with the artist and lauding their significant role in the protection, preservation and promotion of the rare folk art and craft of the country. He expressed his happiness to have successfully launched the event and briefed the public and brought to light schemes and activities of Ministry of Tribal Affairs to support the Tribal artisans of Ladakh. . Mentioning about unique cultural identity of Ladakh, Minister on behalf of Union Tribal Ministry assured to take every possible steps to protect the ethnic identity, values of culture and other morals and interests of this region at all cost. . Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Smt. Renuka Singh highlighted the objective of Aadi Mahotsav saying that artisans from 20 State with their products are participating in this 9-day festival. She said that this event also gives an opportunity to Ladakhi Tribal artisans to come and get themselves empanelled and sell their handlooms and handicrafts through Tribes India stores. She also greeted the people of Ladakh for achieving UT status and said that the Tribal Ministry and other 40 Ministries of Union Govt. will take utmost care of Ladakh in every developmental process. MP Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgyal(JTN ) welcoming the dignitaries extended gratitude to the union govt lead by PM Narendra Modi for granting UT status for Ladakh. He said that this will lead Ladakh to a new height of development in all spheres. At the same time, Ladakhis have also great expectation from Union Govt. in protecting its ethnic identity, culture, traditions and land by including Ladakh under the ambit of 6th schedule of Indian constitution, JTN added. #lehladakh

A post shared by Voice of Ladakh News (@voiceofladakh) on

Leh, 17 Aug 2019:

Ex Chairman J&K Legislative Council Haji Anayat Ali, along with Councilor LAHDC Kargil Stanzin Lakpa, had a brief meeting with Union Minister for Tribal affairs Arjun Munda, MP Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgayil and Ramesh Chan Meena, Chairman TRIIFED at Leh Ladakh.

Haji anayat Ali raised various points related to Newly Declared UT of Ladakh regarding Safe Guard of the Land Acquisition, Job reservation and other issues of the youths of Ladakh UT.

Referring to 95% Population of Ladakh who belongs to Tribal Community, He requested that Ladakh May be declared as Tribal Area under Schedule 6th of the Constitution of India so that the common interest of the twin district of Ladakh Ut may be served and saved.

 

 

 

 

View this post on Instagram

*Haji Anayat Demands Schedule Tribe Area for Ladakh* . Leh, 17 Aug: Ex Chairman J&K Legislative Council Haji Anayat Ali, along with Councilor LAHDC Kargil Stanzin Lakpa, had a brief meeting with Union Minister for Tribal affairs Arjun Munda, MP Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgayil and Ramesh Chan Meena, Chairman TRIIFED at Leh Ladakh. . Haji anayat Ali raised various points related to Newly Declared UT of Ladakh regarding Safe Guard of the Land Acquisition, Job reservation and other issues of the youths of Ladakh UT. Referring to 95% Population of Ladakh who belongs to Tribal Community, He requested that Ladakh May be declared as Tribal Area under Schedule 6th of the Constitution of India so that the common interest of the twin district of Ladakh Ut may be served and saved. . Haji Anayat Ali also requested that a similar event of National Tribal affairs (Aadi Mohatsav ) starting from afternoon of 17th August till 25th August at Leh should be conducted in Kargil also in the month of October November so that the people of Kargil are Equally Benefitted from the schemes of Tribal Ministry. #kargiltoleh

A post shared by Voice of Ladakh News (@voiceofladakh) on

Leh, 17 August 2019:

During an interactive meeting, CEC, LAHDC Gyal P Wangyal presented a memorandum to Arjun Munda, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs, GOI demanding to declare Ladakh as Tribal area under the article 244 of our constitution and bringing it under the provision of sixth schedule to ensure inclusive development of the region in accordance with the aspiration of 98% of tribal population of Ladakh.

Renuka Singh, MOS Tribal Affairs, MP Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgial, Dy Chairman Tsering Sandup, all the Executive Councilors and Ex MLC Chering Dorjey were present in the meeting.

 

 

 

View this post on Instagram

*CEC Leh demands Arjun Munda to declare Ladakh Schedule Tribal Area* Leh, 17 August: During an interactive meeting, CEC, LAHDC Gyal P Wangyal presented a memorandum to Arjun Munda, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs, GOI demanding to declare Ladakh as Tribal area under the article 244 of our constitution and bringing it under the provision of sixth schedule to ensure inclusive development of the region in accordance with the aspiration of 98% of tribal population of Ladakh. . Renuka Singh, MOS Tribal Affairs, MP Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgial, Dy Chairman Tsering Sandup, all the Executive Councilors and Ex MLC Chering Dorjey were present in the meeting. . CEC appraised the Minister that Ladakh has never received the facilities, incentives and other tribal rights which the region deserves being a tribal area with its distinct culture identity and inhospitable topography. He said that with Modi government declaring Ladakh as UT has fulfilled the long pending demand of Ladakhis. At the same time, he impressed upon the desire of local people and the need to ensure protection of land, environment, fragile ecology and unique identity of Ladakh by declaring it as a schedule tribal area. . Arjun Munda, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs, GOI expressed happiness get the chance to visit and interact with the people of Ladakh after declared it as UT. He said that this recent declaration of Ladakh as UT has shown the concern of PM Narendra Modi for the people of Ladakh. He said that in coming times there will be new rules, acts, amendments in UT Ladakh and the autonomous hill council will be brought into proper constitutional frame work. . The Minister assured that all the decisions will be taken considering the aspirations, culture, identity, demography and other factors in favour of the locals. He said that with Ladakh becoming UT the region will be treated equally as any other part of the country with equal opportunity for developmental growth and regional prosperity. #lehladakh

A post shared by Voice of Ladakh News (@voiceofladakh) on

Leh, 16 August 2019:

In a Press Conference on Friday the JAC called back the shutdown call in Kargil district. Sheikh Nazir Mehdi in a joint Press conference said that the Deputy Commissioner asked them to call back the shutdown saying that the Chief Secretary will talk to them if roll back the shutdown. The committee after assurance from the DC called back the Bandh call in the post lunch on 16 August.

The Chief Secretary with a team is expected to meet with the JAC on 17 or 18 August.

Sheikh further said that the JAC has approached the intellectual class to think and give their inputs on the issue which will be produced soon among the public in shape of a memorandum.

Congress District president Nasir Munshi said that the JAC is very clear in its objectives and vision.

16 August 2019:

After a call by the Joint Action Committee that appeared in a public notice, Kargil district observed complete shutdown here on Friday (16 August).

The public notice maintained that the New J&K Reorganisation Bill 2019 has created anxiety and trouble among the people of Ladakh region, which is both historically and geographically part of State of Jammu and Kashmir.

It mentioned that the majority of Ladakh region is Muslim and tribal. In order to protect their interest and rights protests, rallies and hartal are continue since 5 August. In this regard the committee has decided to shutdown all Sub-Divisions and Blocks of Kargil on 16 and 17 August 2019.

 

15 August 2019:

Speaking to media in Kargil Ex Chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council Haji Anayat Ali said that the Hill Development Council Kargil and the Joint Action Committee should embark talks with Central Government.

He said that, as the government has took the decision thus people have to accept it.

Earlier also he had said that the Government has took the decision thus the people of Kargil has to accept it. He opined that people can’t do anything in this regard.

He further said that the problem is common among Leh and Kargil thus have to fight together to attain them. Kargil and Leh is worried for change of demography, insecurity of jobs, extinct of unique culture etc. He urged the people to fight and look forward to resolve the upcoming issues rather than past status.

In public it is a perception that both Haji Anayat Ali and President of Anjuman Ulema e Isna Ashriya Kargil, Sheikh Nazirul Mehdi are in support of the Union territory status.

08 August 2019:

Member of the Joint Action Committee, Haji Hussain said that, hundreds of people marched a procession from Jama Masjid Kargil. Ex MLA Haji Asgar Ali Karbalai, Chairman IKMT, clerics, Qambar Ali Akhoon among others also joined the procession.

The Security forces stopped them at Lal Chowk, but managed to march up to Old Taxi Stand Kargil and returned back to Lal CHowk. The today demonstration closed at Lal Chowk after an address by Asgar Ali Karbalai.

Karbalai said that the procession is against the abrogation of article 370 and reorganisation of J&K State. He demanded to restore the Article 370 and statehood of J&K. He condemned the MP Ladakh for “misleading the parliament”. He appealed the MP to apologize for his “lies” in Parliament.

He further said that the protest will continue from tomorrow after a consultation meeting of the Joint Action Committee. The meeting is scheduled to held today at 4:00 PM.

Twelve people including Zakir Hussain Councillor, Adv. Talib, Haji Nissar have been detained in the protest.

People are demanding to restore Article 370 and 35-A.

 

 

 

 

 

11:00 AM:

The security forces have reportedly used teargas to disperse the peaceful protesters. Hundreds of people are not allowed to enter Kargil city because of road blockade at various places.

09: 00 AM:

People protesting in Kargil town. Security forces are deployed along with local JK police.

08 August 2019 | 08:00 Am:

Sources informed that the roads are blocked in various areas like Minjee Gound, Titichumik, Pushkum, Shilikchay, Poyen Bridge, Barudoo Bridge etc.

07 August 2019:

The District Magistrate Kargil in a public order imposed Section 144 in the district with effect  from 05:00 Am on 8 August. The Order said all government and private schools will remain closed till further order.

07 August 2019:

the Joint Action Committee call for mass protest and Shutdown in all over Kargil.

Abrogation Of Article 370 Gives Ladakh Opportunity To Nurture Its Political Expression

For a long time, circumstances never permitted Ladakh to shape its own political identity and the intermittent attempts by people to voice local aspirations were either ruthlessly crushed or skillfully outmanoeuvred by political masters from outside.

BY P. STOBDAN
ladakh_630_630

Ladakh has finally received a political status under the sun. The region had been suffering for long due to the prolonged political crisis in Jammu and Kashmir.

For a long time, circumstances never permitted Ladakh to shape its own political identity. Instead, the intermittent attempts by people to voice local aspirations were either ruthlessly crushed or skillfully outmanoeuvred by political masters from outside. The demands raised by Ladakh, some of them predating J&K’s merger with the Indian Union, remain unfulfilled.

The reasons non-fulfilment are numerous, but essentially Srinagar and New Delhi, for decades, succeeded in exploiting the simplicity, backwardness, fragility, and also played on local faultlines to keep Ladakh under their thumb.

Being a small community, there was a limit to the pulls and pressures of political dynamics, taking place elsewhere at the national level, which Ladakh could withstand.

The region has its own social, political and economic issues that are specific, distinct and cannot be addressed by juxtaposing or over-identifying with the larger trend.

Ladakh cannot allow its aspirations to be driven by external motivations, which seems easier but not an ideal choice, for it will amount to exposing its political bankruptcy.

The people of Ladakh have their own regional identity which is more distinct by any yardstick compared to Jammu and Kashmir. The situation around Ladakh has changed rapidly in the past 20 years, and people have their aspirations.

The time was ripe to deal with the status quo and widespread shortcomings that were detrimental to national interests.

Ladakh’s problems couldn’t have been addressed without engagement and ideas, thoughts, actions and wisdom of the people themselves to be able to reflect their regional distinctiveness and aspirations.

Abrogation of 370 and withering away of Jammu and Kashmir is a welcome move for Ladakh. It should integrate the region fully with the rest of the country as an equal stakeholder in building the nation.

It should allow the people of Ladakh to nurture a political expression to be able to uphold its political identity and interest first.

It would steer an alternative political discourse based on local aspirations and challenges; to work towards the removal of prolonged political neglect of the region by putting the key issues on the forefront of national attention.

The UT status should cater to the rising expectations of the people, especially the younger generation, to prevent them from falling adrift, and to exploit the full political potentials and economic interests of Ladakh.

(The author is a former ambassador and an expert on strategic affairs)

The Article was appeared in the Outlook on 6 August 2019. 

What is Leh leaders’ logic behind demand for UT status?

Jamyang-Tsering-Namgyal-e1558840338981-660x330

Sitting Member of Parliament from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgyal while talking to EXCELSIOR on telephone from Parliament House said:

“Getting freedom from the Kashmiri rulers by granting Union Territory status to Ladakh region was main and long pending demand of people, which has finally been met with”.

Dubbing the decision as historic, the Member of Parliament said:

“No doubt Union Territory with legislature would have been much better decision but we are largely satisfied as our several decades long struggle has finally reached the logical conclusion”, adding “it is a fact that political space has shrunk with the grant of UT status without legislature but everyone must keep in mind that to achieve something you have to lose something”.

Strongly demanding continuation of Autonomous Hill Development Council mechanism in both Leh and Kargil districts, Namgyal said:

“We hope this aspect would be taken care of by the Union Government while issuing formal orders vis-a-vis Union Territory of Ladakh”.

Former Member of Parliament Thupstan Chhewang, while talking to EXCELSIOR from Leh, said:

“We have finally been liberated from the Kashmiri rulers, who did nothing to empower the people of Ladakh and redress their grievances… Under Kashmiri rulers Ladakh always suffered a lot but now we are heading towards a bright future”.

Admitting that Union Territory with legislature would have been much better decision, the former MP said:

“Still we are satisfied as now it would be very convenient to get laws for the benefits of the people of Ladakh region passed from the Parliament which was not the case with the State Legislative Assembly… We never received any cooperation from the Kashmiri rulers in the State Legislative Assembly in resolving the issues confronting the people of entire Ladakh region… Now we will make efforts to get entire Ladakh declared as tribal area, which is also our long pending demand”.

Former MLA from Nubra Deldan Namgyal said:

“No doubt Union Territory status is a welcome decision but sentiments of the people would have been completely respected only with UT and legislature as is being done in case of other parts of the State… By resorting to decision without taking representatives of people into confidence the Union Government has restricted the flow of democracy to the region”.

Opinion:

The only logic articulated by leaders from Leh in favour of Union Territory status is “End of Kashmiri Dominance”. What type of dominance they had is hard for them to explain. Because nothing such exist on the ground in terms of politics, economy or culture.

Secondly they are ignoring the fact that the abrogation of Article 370 welcomes the non-Ladakhis to hold land in Ladakh. They will change the demography of the region. The identity, unique culture, language, all are on the verge of extinction. Ladakh’s economy will be dominated by the outsiders.

The Leaders have be-fooled the people in Ladakh. #Article370toGaya

We are trying to create a data base of developments in Ladakh on a single platform. We encourage young writers from Ladakh to write their concerns / piece at ladakhexpress[at]gmail.com