Updated: July 2, 2021 5:09:10 am
Political and civil society representatives from Ladakh’s Kargil district Thursday met MoS Home G Kishan Reddy and discussed full statehood for Ladakh and restoration of Article 370 and 35A.
A delegation of Kargil Democratic Alliance, a coalition of political, social and religious organisations in Kargil, had an over two-hour meeting with the junior minister at North Block. The minister is learnt to have assured the delegation that the ministry will study their demands and convey the same to the top political leadership.
The meeting comes days after political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir met PM Narendra Modi and demanded full statehood for the Union territory apart from discussing restoration of Article 370.
“We want full fledged statehood for Ladakh. We are not happy with the idea of a Union territory. We spent two and a half hours with the honorable minister and have put forth our demand. We also want restoration of Article 370 and 35 A. We are residents of border areas and we want to become the strength of the nation. But August 5 decisions have created a trust deficit. We also spoke about safeguards for our culture, identity, language, land and jobs. Kargil and Skardu (in Gilgit Baltistan) route opening was also discussed. The minister assured us that our demands would be looked into,” said politician and social activist Sajjad Hussain, a member of the delegation. “It was the first meeting. We want more such meetings in future. We want to meet Home Minister Amit Shah and PM Narendra Modi also,” he added.
Leh had been demanding inclusion in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and later demanded a UT with legislature. Kargil representatives, however, said they were representing the demands of the entire Ladakh region and that now Leh was also gravitating towards demanding full statehood for Ladakh. Earlier, Reddy had met representatives from Leh.
“The August 5 decisions were taken in an unconstitutional manner and statehood was snatched illegally…People have a lot of resentment about this. We have never demanded being a UT,” former state Minister and co-chairman of the KDA, Qamar Ali Akhoon, said. “Leh wanted UT… But they are now saying it is a car without an engine as there is no protection for land and jobs. They demanded Sixth Schedule. We are not in favor of Sixth Schedule. So we all agreed that we should seek full statehood for Ladakh and restoration of Article 370 and 35A. We raised these issues with the minister.”
According to Akhoon, full statehood will ensure political and executive power in the hands of local people. “There is no public representation. We also told him that no development has been happening. The minister said it was because of Covid,” Akhoon said, adding that MHA has promised formation of a development committee for the region which will have representation from Kargil.
Members of the delegation said that at first Leh was very happy about being turned into a UT, but over the years, the mood has changed in the region as it is apprehensive about demographic change and loss of jobs and land. “More importantly, there is no political representation in the administration of the region. There were four MLAs from the region earlier. No special benefits have come to the region after becoming a UT. We were always saying this, but Leh was confused initially,” a member said.
Sources in the ministry said Reddy would convey the concerns of the delegation to Home Minister Amit Shah. “More such meetings may be held,” a home ministry official said.
In January, the MHA had announced it would form a committee under Reddy to find a solution to issues related to Ladakh. This came after a 10-member delegation from Ladakh met Shah. Sources said that the delegation did not have representation from Kargil.
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