THE NATIONAL Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has sent a formal recommendation to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to declare Ladakh a “tribal area” in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
The Commission on Wednesday wrote to Home Minister Amit Shah and Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda, recommending the status that will allow the Centre to grant autonomous councils in the region on the pattern of the Northeast states.
The Sixth Schedule provides for the administration of tribal areas after setting up autonomous district and regional councils.
“The commission, after careful consideration, recommends that the Union Territory of Ladakh be brought under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution… Accordingly, NCST chairperson (Nand Kumar Sai) has written to Home and Tribal Affairs Ministers conveying the recommendation,” a statement issued by the NCST said.
According to the NCST, this will help “democratic devolution of powers, preserve and promote distinct culture of the region, protect agrarian rights including rights on land and enhance transfer of funds for speedy development of the region”.
The NCST’s recommendation comes against the backdrop of growing demand from a predominantly tribal population and political leaders of Ladakh for according “tribal area” status to the region. The Home Ministry is the central authority for declaring an area as a “tribal area”.
In a memorandum to Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda in August, BJP MP from Ladakh, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, had said the region is a predominantly tribal area with tribals making up to 98 per cent of its population. “After the Centre announced its decision to make Ladakh a Union Territory, the biggest concern of the tribal population here is to protect its identity, culture, land and economy,” he had said.