A clash between Muslims and Buddhists of the Ladakh Union Territory (UT) was averted on Monday after a march by a monk towards Kargil town to set up a monastery was called off on the intervention of the administration.
Officials said the L-G administration intervened to stop the ‘peace march’ by an independent monk, Choskyong Palga Rinpoche, who started a ‘paad yatra’ earlier this month. Rinpoche was stopped at Mulbek, around 35 km away from the Kargil town, on Monday.
Rinpoche is agitating to set up a monastery in Kargil, as envisaged in an order issued in 1961. However, the move was opposed by the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), an amalgam of several religious and political parties based in Muslim-Majority Kargil.
Sources said Union Home Minister Amit Shah was apprised about the issue and its ramifications.
“We thank the Lieutenant Governor and the deputy commissioner for their role in stopping the so-called peace march, which had potential to stoke passions and fuel tension between the two communities,” Sajjad Kargili, a KDA member, told The Hindu.
He said a deliberate attempt was being made to divide and create fault lines in the UT. “We seek an amicable solution to the issue. We are in touch with the Ladakh Buddhist Association, Leh, to find a solution,” he added.
In 1961, a piece of land was earmarked for the construction of a monastery in Kargil. The move, however, was opposed by the Muslims in Kargil, who said no Buddhists reside in the town which is home to Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust (IKMT) and the Islamia School Kargil (ISK).
Later, in 1969, according to the KDA, the earlier order was amended and the land was earmarked for building residential or commercial complexes. The order also suggested that in no case should the site be used for any religious purpose.
The KDA, In a letter written to the District Magistrate, Kargil, described the monk’s march as “politically motivated” with the “clear intention of disturbing the communal harmony and peace in the area”. The march was aimed at laying a foundation stone at the site.
Meanwhile, the KDA and the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) have “unanimously agreed that the issue must be solved amicably, taking the main stakeholders into confidence”.
Thupstan Chhewang, president of the LBA, said a religious event has been happening at the site, and it was done this year too. The LBA this year announced that the foundation stone for a gumpa in Kargil would be laid. “There is a demand to set up a gumpa on two kanals of land that was granted to the LBA. We are pursuing it peacefully,” Mr. Chhewang.
He said there was an amendment order to the 1961 order in 1969 to change the land use for residential or commercial complexes. “We demand that the 1961 order should be restored. Else, we will make a representation to have a gumpa at the site. We are aiming to construct it with the help of the local population,” he added.
The population in Ladakh comprises 46.6% Muslims, 39.7% Buddhists and 12.1% Hindus.