The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council in the Buddhist-dominated Leh district Thursday passed a resolution seeking safeguards “under the 6th Schedule, Article 371 or Domicile Act of the Constitution” to protect the rights of indigenous people of the Union Territory.
The council, in which the BJP has a majority, also passed another resolution seeking amendment in the LAHDC Act so as to give it “complete control over subjects like ownership of transfer of land, employment, natural resources, environment and culture of the the indigenous people of Ladakh”.
Both resolutions were moved by Deputy Chairman of the Hill Council and BJP member Tsering Sandup.
Tsering Wandus, Mumtaz Hussain and Lobzang Nyantak, Councillors of Saspol, Leh and Upper Leh, respectively, were among the signatories.
Both resolutions were unanimously passed by the council as the members of the opposition Congress, led by Councillor Korzon Gyurmet Dorjey, staged a walkout, stating that the Union Territory in its present form was “incomplete”.
The resolution read: “Owing to Ladakh’s distinct socio-cultural aspect, its strategic location and fragile ecosystem, the general public cutting across all sections of society have been demanding ‘Constitutional Safeguard’ for protection of land, employment, environment, business and culture”.
In the 30-member Hill Council, 26 members are elected and four are nominated with no voting rights. The BJP has 18 elected members in the LAHDC, followed by Congress with five, National Conference (two) and one independent.
BJP MP from Ladakh and ex-officio member of the Hill Council, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, welcomed the resolutions. “After the creation of Union Territory, it was the second occasion for the people of Ladakh to write history in the golden words as we are discussing safeguards for them.”
“Selective law and safeguards of any state can’t be replicated in Ladakh as it has its unique demography, different socio economic and climatic condition, geoclimatic factors and border aspects,” he added.
The MP expressed his concern over the revival of customary laws like polygamy and animal sacrifices in Ladakh society under the 6th Schedule.
Namgyal said: “Like Arunachal Pradesh, we should also give the option of safeguards and should not jump to the conclusion that laws like the Domicile Act could be a disaster for Ladakh until we know the reality”.
On July 24, Ladakh had observed complete shutdown against alleged “discrimination in jobs and recruitment”. This was after Ladakhi canddiates were allegedly barred from applying for jobs in Jammu and Kashmir Bank. The protesters then were seeking special constitutional safeguards.