Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai held talks with local leaders of Leh and Kargil districts on Saturday, even as people in the Union Territory, cutting across political and religious lines, observed a complete bandh over their demand for statehood and constitutional safeguards under 6th Schedule of the Constitution.
The meeting in Leh lasted for nearly three hours, with leaders of the Apex Body of Leh and the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) demanding statehood to Ladakh and constitutional safeguards for its people under 6th Schedule.
They also demanded holding of recruitment process for local youth, besides separate Lok Sabha seats for Leh and Kargil districts.
KDA’s co-chairperson and National Conference leader Qamar Ali Akhoon said Rai heard them and assured that a committee would be constituted, comprising five members each from the Apex body and the KDA, besides some officials of the Home Ministry, the Ladakh MP, and chief executive councilors of both Leh and Kargil hill councils. He also assured that recruitment of local youths would be started at the earliest, Akhoon said.
The apex body and the KDA are separate groups of political, social, religious, trade and cultural organisations of Leh and Kargil districts, respectively. They were formed to push the demand for statehood to Ladakh and constitutional safeguards to its people under 6th Schedule.
The Ladakh MP, Tsering Jamyang Namgiyal of BJP, did not attend the meeting. On August 5, 2019, he had supported in Lok Sabha the Centre’s decision to remove special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370. Namgiyal is also a member of the Apex Body of Ladakh.
Saturday’s Ladakh bandh came when Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, along with a few Union ministers and BJP MPs, were in Leh in connection with the third Parliamentary Outreach Programme for Empowerment of Panchayati Raj Institutions in the new UT.
While they were earlier had different stands on the issue of UT status to Ladakh, on August 1, the Ladakh and Kargil organisations joined hands to seek full statehood along with constitutional safeguards for the region.
The two organisations called for the general strike in Ladakh on Saturday, claiming that their efforts to start a dialogue with the Union Home Ministry was not positively responded to, and an attempt was made to “divide the people of Ladakh” by inviting their constituents separately by Rai instead of extending an invitation to a joint delegation.
With PTI inputs