Ladakh representatives meeting with Centre today, to demand statehood

BJP is keen on ending the deadlock before the Lok Sabha elections are announced


Representatives of Ladakh are convening with the Centre’s high-powered committee, led by Minister of State for Home, Nityanand Rai, in New Delhi today to discuss their demands for the Union Territory. Seven members each from the Leh Apex Body (LAB) and the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) have arrived in Delhi for talks with the high-powered committee, scheduled at 2pm. 

LAB member Tsering Dorjay told THE WEEK that the meeting was initially scheduled for 10am but was later rescheduled for 2pm. “We are demanding statehood, Sixth Schedule, two Lok Sabha MPs, and a Public Service Commission for Ladakh,’’ Dorjey said, expressing hope for a positive response from the Centre. 

Following Ladakh's separation from Jammu and Kashmir and its grant of UT status, residents have been advocating for constitutional safeguards regarding land, jobs, and a distinct identity. 

The decision to confer UT status to the region received approval from people in Leh but was rejected by those in Kargil. 

The realisation among Leh residents that the protective provisions for land, jobs, and identity, previously enjoyed under Article 370 when Ladakh was part of Jammu and Kashmir, no longer applied as a UT, sparked unrest, leading to protests. The LAB subsequently collaborated with the KDA to jointly pursue constitutional safeguards for the region. They mutually agreed to include the demand for statehood in their list of demands for Ladakh. 

Following Ladakh's transition to a UT, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) in Leh and Kargil lost their powers. The four assembly seats, two in Kargil and two in Leh, ceased to exist as the UT status was granted without an assembly, unlike in Kashmir. 

Last December, the Centre reaffirmed its commitment to accelerate Ladakh's development and address its people's aspirations. This commitment was reiterated during discussions with the high-powered committee chaired by Rai. 

Established by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the committee for Ladakh, under Rai's leadership, aims to preserve the region's unique cultural and linguistic heritage while considering its strategic significance. It focuses on safeguarding land, promoting inclusive development, empowering the Ladakh LAHDCs of Leh and Kargil, and exploring constitutional safeguards. 

The BJP is keen on ending the deadlock before the code of conduct for the Lok Sabha polls comes into effect and retain the lone Lok Sabha seat in the region. 


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