Key socio-political outfits in Ladakh reject Centre’s plan, harden stand on Statehood

Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance have threatened to intensify agitation over the issues 

January 07, 2023 10:44 pm | Updated January 08, 2023 10:54 am IST - JAMMU

A demonstration in Kargil demanding Statehood for Ladakh. File: Special Arrangement

A demonstration in Kargil demanding Statehood for Ladakh. File: Special Arrangement

Ladakh’s two top socio-political bodies, the Leh Apex Body (LAB ) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), on Saturday rejected the Union Home Ministry’s high-powered committee for protection of land and jobs for the people of the Union Territory. The bodies hardened their stand on four key points, which include granting Statehood and special status under the Sixth Schedule of Constitution

The decision was taken during an emergency meeting of the LAB and KDA in Jammu after studying the recent announcement by the MHA on the formation of a committee led by Union Minister of State Nityanand Rai, “to resolve the outstanding issues of Ladakh”. “The LAB and the KDA decided not to accept the formation of the high-powered committee and attend any meeting conducted under the aegis of the committee as the said committee has not been mandated to discuss issues raised by the LAB and the KDA,” the twin organisations, comprising religious and political parties from the U.T., said in a joint statement.

These bodies also put forth conditions before the Centre for their participation in any meeting organised by the high-powered committee. “Both the bodies will agree to participate in any meeting headed by a committee which is empowered to discuss the four issues in question, i.e., Statehood, constitutional safeguard under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India in order to protect the interest of the tribal people of Ladakh, formation of Public Service Commission and reservation of jobs for youth of Ladakh, and creation of two separate parliamentary constituencies for Leh and Kargil,” the statement said.

Ladakh was carved out as a U.T. from erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in 2019. Since then, the region has witnessed unrelenting protests demanding special status and Statehood. The Centre on January 3 this year announced a 17-member committee “to discuss measures to protect the region’s unique culture and language taking into consideration its geographical location and its strategic importance”.

Meanwhile, these bodies accused the Centre of arbitrarily excluding and including members (in the committee) without consultation with the LAB and KDA. “The government should include all [15 names] as proposed by the bodies in the year 2021 as per Home Ministry’s instruction,” it said.

Explained | Why has a high-power Ladakh committee been formed?

The LAB and KDA members have threatened to intensify agitation over the issues highlighted at the meeting in Jammu. They have decided to hold a protest rally in Jammu on January 15 followed by a dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi in the third week of February. 

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