Communal passions are running high in Leh where the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) had asked hundreds of people from Kargil, who work in Leh during the summer season, to leave by Thursday. Although the 14 September deadline has expired, tensions are running high and many of the Kargil traders have left Leh fearing backlash.
The LBA “edict” followed a Buddhist girl from Leh eloping with a Muslim boy of the region. The family of the girl had complained that they were not being allowed to speak to their daughter. This infuriated LBA leaders, who said in a public rally held last week in Leh, “Kargil Muslims cannot earn their livelihood in Leh and also snatch our girls.” LBA claimed that more than 60,000 people including people from Kargil and Kashmir come to Leh during the tourist season and earn their bread and butter. They blamed the religious organisations of Kargil for patronising and protecting criminal elements and also the boys who force the Buddhist girls to marry them.
Soon after the threat issued by the LBA, Kargil Muslim organisations, especially the Islamia School of Kargil, wrote to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and asked her to ensure the security and safety of all Kargil families who are presently in Leh. The district authorities of Leh told this newspaper that they have taken all the precautionary measures and will not allow anyone to take the law in their own hands. But according to Kargil businessmen and some businessmen from Kashmir, on Friday, the prominent Chandu Market remained closed as most of the shops and tea stalls on the main road in Leh belong to Muslims from Kargil and Kashmir. “We feel threatened and most of us are not going to the market,” a Kargil businessmen told this newspaper.
According to the police, the inter-religious marriage between a Buddhist girl and a Muslim boy created tension in the entire region. The police said that the girl’s family approached them and registered a complaint about their missing daughter. The police finally traced the girl in Jammu and dispatched a team to bring her back to Leh along with her brother. However, when the police team from Leh reached there on 8 September, they received a Court order instructing them not to harass the couple. The LBA and the family members of the girl claim that their daughter was not allowed to speak to them and if she has gone out of her choice why has she been made inaccessible. Senior Superintendent of Police Uday Bhaskar said that Leh town was flooded with tourists and they have taken all the measures to keep the situation under control. The district administration also held a peace meeting on Friday afternoon with three major religious groups in Leh town—the LBA, Anjuman-e-Imamyia and Anjuman-e-Moin-ul-Islam.