Ahead of PM meet with J&K leaders, BJP MP demands UT with Legislature for Ladakh


Apex Body including BJP MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal says that after losing safeguards following abrogation of Article 370 and35-A, aspirations of the local people cannot be fulfilled until they have power to make law and decide about Ladakh.

By Bunty Mahajan

Jammu: BJP’s sitting MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal along with leaders of all the socio-religious and political organizations on Wednesday demanded Union Territory with Legislature for Ladakh.

“We had so far been demanding safeguards under 6th schedule of the Indian Constitution so as to address people’s apprehension in respect to land, reservation to jobs, culture, language and environment after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A of the Indian Constitution,’’ said former MP Thupstan Chewang who also happens to be the member of Apex Body comprising heads of all the socio-religious and political organizations of Leh.

“However, we have now changed our demand to a UT with Legislature for Ladakh,’’ he said, adding the decision about it was taken by members of the Apex Body at a meeting in Thicksey on Tuesday, as they felt that “in view the present political situation and the kind of administration set up and the works undertaken by it in Ladakh after the formation of UT, the aspirations of the people cannot be met unless they get the power to make laws and decide about Ladakh’’.

“If the safeguards as available under 6th schedule of the Constitution were not possible to the people of Ladakh despite their getting a UT with Legislature, then we will demand the Centre to have a separate schedule for them in the Constitution,’’ he added.

BJP’s MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, chairperson of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh, Tashi Gyalson were also present.

Significantly, the new demand by Ladakh Buddhists has come a day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with leaders of all the political parties from Jammu and Kashmir. The proposed meeting is being taken as a first major political initiative by the Centre on J&K after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A on August 5, 2019.

The Apex Body decided to take on board the people of Kargil also so as to jointly press the demand before the Centre, Chewang said, adding that they will soon invite representatives of LAHDC, Kargil, and heads of socio-religious and political organizations there to Leh for talks. If a consensus emerges, then there will be joint panel comprising members from both the districts to take up the issue with the Centre, he said, adding that the joint panel will be headed by sitting MP Tsering Jamyang Namgyal.

Pointing out that they already had two meetings with Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi, he said that it was decided there to have a committee led by Minister of State for Home G Krishna Reddy so as to address the apprehensions among people of Ladakh over their losing safeguards after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A.

Though the Apex Body sent the names of its representatives, the committee could not be set up for want of finalization of names of its officers by the Home Ministry, UT administration, besides Hill Councils of both Leh and Kargil, he added.

Ladakh Buddhists have long been demanding UT status and the first memorandum for it was given by the then Ladakh Buddhist Association president Kalon Tsewang Rigzin to country’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1949. In 1989, LBA president Thupstan Chewang spearheaded a bigger agitation for UT status.

In 1993, the Central government and the Jammu Kashmir State Government in tripartite talks agreed to grant Ladakh the status of Autonomous Hill Council. The Council came into being with the holding of elections on August 28,1995. Later in 2003, a separate autonomous hill council was given to Kargil also.

However, despite the creation of hill councils, the demand for UT status continued.

After Centre agreed to their long pending demand for UT status on August 5, 2019, the Ladakh Buddhists started demanding constitutional safe guards for them as provided under sixth schedule of the Indian Constitution. Now, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called a meeting of leaders of all parties from Kashmir they have, however, changed their demand to UT status for Ladakh with a legislature.