Srinagar: Though an intense cold wave is keeping people of Ladakh inside their homes, recently they gave a general strike call jointly supported by all the trade and social organizations, in order to get statehood with legislature along with constitutional safeguards to preserve their culture and land.
For the first time, Ladakh and Kargil are on the same page for their demands and it has really rattled the administration in the UT of Ladakh as the agitation is only going to increase in the coming days if the Union Ministry of Home Affairs does not hold discussions with the Apex Body of Leh, an umbrella of various religious and political organizations of Leh, and the Kargil Democratic Alliance, again a united platform of all the political and religious organizations in Kargil.
On their strike call, there was an overwhelming response both in Kargil and Leh as the people of the entire UT of Ladakh want a separate statehood and also constitutional safeguards after Ladakh was carved out as a separate Union Territory by the central government on 5 August 2019.
Sajad Kargali, one of the faces of Kargil Democratic Alliance, told this newspaper that they want on the lines of the 6th schedule to safeguard demography, environment and unique culture of Ladakh and “the Union Home Ministry already knows our demands”. He said that they want two Lok Sabha seats instead of one and also one Rajya Sabha seat for the UT of Ladakh.
Asked whether they got any response from the Union government, he said that so far, they have not been contacted, but they hope that the Home Ministry will realize soon that it is better to have discussions than to force an agitation in the Ladakh area.
Thupstan Chhewang, president of the Apex Body of Leh, told media recently that they have already chalked out a plan of agitation if the central government does not pay any heed to their demands. He said that when the weather improves in the spring season, they will start door-to-door campaigns and mobilize people and make them aware of their rights.
Although the Union Home Ministry has brought a lot of laws to the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, they have refrained from any such exercise in the UT of Ladakh. No central law has been extended to the UT of Ladakh and they still have some old laws which safeguard their rights on the jobs and land. The impact of the recent assertion by the joint leadership of Kargil and Ladakh has shown its impact on the BJP leadership both in Ladakh and at the Centre.
A day after the general strike call, Ladakh MP of BJP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal raised the matter in Parliament, demanding constitutional safeguard for Ladakh on the lines of the Sixth Schedule. He also talked about safeguarding the land and employment opportunities for the locals in Ladakh.
Though the Union Home Ministry is silent about the proposed talks with the joint leadership of Ladakh, according to the reports from Leh, the central government will soon open the channels of communication and talk to them for the future of Ladakh.