Sixth schedule demand: Discussions between Centre and Ladakh delegation yet to yield breakthrough

Date yet to be fixed for next meeting


The discussions between the Centre and the Ladakh delegation regarding the region's demand for sixth schedule status and statehood have not yielded any breakthrough.

Following the separation of Ladakh from Jammu and Kashmir and its designation as a union territory on August 5, 2019, the representatives of Ladakh, including the Leh Apex body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), have united to emphasise constitutional safeguards for land, employment, and culture.

While the decision to grant a UT status to the region was welcomed by the Buddhist majority in Leh, it faced opposition from the Muslim-majority Kargil. However, concerns arose when the protection under Article 370 ceased upon Ladakh becoming a UT, leading to restlessness among Leh's residents.

The influential Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) gathered various social, political, and religious entities in Leh and formed LAB to advocate sixth Schedule status, similar to certain northeastern states for the region.

Collaborating with the KDA, which has been advocating for Ladakh's statehood post the Ladakh region's revocation, the two bodies joined forces to press for constitutional safeguards. The Centre engaged the LAB and KDA in talks through a high-powered committee led by Union Minister of State Nityanand Rai. 

Despite discussions held in Leh and later in Delhi, little progress has been made in resolving the issues. Rai, sources said, expressed willingness to discuss the demands put forth by LAB and KDA but remained non-committal.

The Home Ministry seems prepared to address Ladakh's concerns regarding local land and job opportunities but appears unwilling to grant statehood or Sixth Schedule-like status.

The latest meeting between Ladakh representatives and Home Ministry officials, chaired by Rai on December 4, remained inconclusive after an hour-and-a-half discussion at the North Block. Present were Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, Ladakh's MHA officers, the Director of the Intelligence Bureau, local political representatives, and Ladakh LG's Advisor, with LG Ladakh Brig (Retd) B.D. Mishra absent due to medical reasons.

LAB and KDA reiterated their four-point agenda during the meeting: Statehood for Ladakh, sixth schedule status, allocation of two Lok Sabha seats, and employment opportunities, including the formation of a Public Services Commission (PSC). Thupstan Chhewang spoke on behalf of LAB, while Asgar Ali Karbalaie represented KDA.

Rai neither accepted nor rejected the demands, suggesting exploration of options beyond the sixth schedule for safeguarding land, jobs, and cultural identity, as shared by Chhering Dorjey, a LAB member.

Despite the assurance of another meeting, a specific date was not provided. While Rai didn't propose alternative options to the sixth schedule, LAB remains resolute in their demand for sixth schedule status and Ladakh's statehood.

Among those present were representatives from LAB, including Thupstan Chhewang, Nawang Rigzin Jora, Ashraf Barchapa, Dr Abdul Qayum, Tsering Wangdus, and Padma Stanzin, and KDA representatives, including Qamar Ali Akhoon, Sajjad Hussain Kargili, Sheikh Bashir Shakir, Skarma Dadul, and Mubarak Shah Naqvi, alongside Karbalaie.

The political demands by the representatives in Ladakh have come at a time when the Centre is focussed on tackling the Chinese threat after the communist country transgressed into Ladakh in 2020. 


Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp