As Leh celebrates the Union Territory status given to Ladakh, Kargil observed a three-day shutdown ahead of the official bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two UTs.
Following the government’s decision, there have been protests in Kargil — the Muslim-majority district of Ladakh region — alleging discrimination. Two religious schools of Kargil, Imam Khomeini Trust and Islamiya School Kargil, several religious and political parties have also formed a joint action committee (JAC) on the issue.
“We want equal distribution between Leh and Kargil, whether it is in finance, administration or employment or setup. We also want land protection. There should be a separate public service commission in Ladakh. Ladakh UT should be renamed UT of Leh and Kargil,” Congress leader and secretary of JAC Nasir Munshi told The Indian Express on Friday.
“The office of L-G is now in Leh. The IG office is in Leh. The administrative secretary’s office too is in Leh. What is there for us? Nothing.” Kargil district observed a shutdown from October 29 to 31. While there has been no shutdown since, the JAC said protests would continue until their demands are met.
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Political activist Sajad Kargili said, “We have always faced discrimination. We are against scrapping of special status of the state and bifurcation. In the new UT, Kargil has been again discriminated against…”
One of the main reasons for their resentment, according to Kargili, is lack of political representation that comes with the change in status for Ladakh.
“Until now, even if we were a small region, we were stakeholders in J&K state. Our MLAs could question the CM in the Assembly. Now, we will be under one man’s rule and have no political representation,” he said.
“Kargil is facing injustice and discrimination, and if it continues, the anger and sadness among the people can explode…” said Asgar Karbalai, a political figure in Kargil. “In Ladakh, attempts are made to appease one community only.”
However, Haji Inayat Ali, a former PDP leader who recently switched to the BJP, blamed the NC and Congress for raising the issue, which can be “handled by talking to authorities”.
“Parties like NC and Congress are behind the protests. What will we get by protesting on roads? I think we should form a joint action committee of Kargil and Leh and talk to the government,” he said.
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