The newly elected representative of Chushul constituency in the Leh-Ladakah Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) has said that the government must prioritise development of villages on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), as the people living there are “second guardian force” of the country after the armed forces.
The 26 new members of Leh-LAHDC were sworn in on Saturday. The BJP, with 15 members, heads the council. The Congress has nine members, and there are two Independents.
Konchok Stanzin, who quit BJP before the LAHDC election last month and successfully contested as an Independent from Chushul, a forward area on LAC, on Sunday said there had been “inadequate attention” to villages on the LAC in Ladakh, and the difference between his constituency and Moldo, on the Chinese side, is stark.
Stanzin said: “In Moldo, they have 5G networks – not one but two or three networks. There is 5G even in other areas such as Dumtele, Demchok. We can see their areas have 24×7 electricity. They have developed hydel dams that provide power supply to these areas. We can see all this from Chushul. The people in Chushul are making do with a few hours of supply, and even our 2G coverage is pathetic.”
He said there is insecurity among people in the border villages. “Whenever tensions flare up on the LAC, the first thing to go is telephone connectivity, and people get completely cut off,” he said.
The government needs to develop “smart villages” on the LAC, he said. “It (a village) should have all facilities – health, education, roads, telecommunication, electricity. If the government deprives people living on the border of these things, they are not going to remain there, and that will not be good for safeguarding the territory,” Stanzin said. “We are the government’s eyes and ears there; our people notice everything. People living at the border are the second guardian force of the nation – they are soldiers without uniform.”
A resident of Lukung village in Chushul, on the banks of Pangong Tso, Stanzin said he had on many occasions tried to convey seriousness of the situation to the party leadership. “But I got a call from the BJP headquarters telling me that the border situation is being handled separately; that I should remain silent and not speak about it at all,” said Stanzin, who quit BJP after the party nominated another candidate for the election.
He said it is difficult to keep silent on the issue when people in the villages in Chushul had been steadily losing their access to their winter grazing areas due to the westward spread of the Chinese army. This year, that lack of access has widened, he maintained. The Fingers area had also become out of bounds, he said.
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