by Yawar Hussain
SRINAGAR: The politics in the cold desert region of Ladakh is heating up ahead of today’s all-party meeting of Jammu and Kashmir political parties with the prime minister.
The Apex Body—an amalgam of socio-religious and political parties including the Bharatiya Janata Party Ladakh unit—Wednesday demanded a legislature for the union territory stating that the “interests” of the people of the region can be articulated in a better way by a local government elected by the people.
The Apex Body had come into the limelight after they had last year jointly announced a boycott of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council elections till the region is granted protected status under Schedule 6th of the Indian constitution.
Conceding to the demand, the central government had formed a committee under Minister of State Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy to look into the possibilities of extending the protections under Schedule 6 of the constitution of India to the region.
However, on Wednesday, the Apex Body after a meeting changed their stand with BJP Lok Sabha member from Ladakh Tsering Namgyal also present in the press conference.
The Apex Committee said that they have reached out to Kargil’s socio-religious and political parties in order to jointly pitch for a legislature for the union territory.
“Our demand for protected status under Schedule 6 stands. We lost the protection of our exclusive land and job rights when Article 370 and 35-A were revoked. We have concerns related to our environment and culture. This legislature status is a separate demand,” Thupstan Chewang Apex Body Chairman and former member parliament said.
Interestingly, BJP’s own member parliament Tsering Namgyal has been chosen by the Apex Body as their representative before the central government.
“There is an all-party meeting to look into the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. We also demand that the central government should look into our new demand,” Thupstan Chewang Apex Body Chairman added
” It will be UT Ladakh with a legislature for the people of this region. The same will be put forth to the MoS Home GK Reddy during the talks to be held soon,” he said.
In a press statement issued after the meeting, the Apex Body said, “A separate schedule of the Constitution of India is needed for safeguarding, the interests of residents of Ladakh in respect of land ownership job reservation, environmental protection, cultural preservation, and other common interests of the inhabitants of the Ladakh region about 95 per cent of whom belong to various schedule tribes.”
The statement reads: “Efforts shall be made to enlist the support of various organizations of the Kargil district as well, in a joint meeting of representatives of two districts in which apart from seeking consensus of the above decisions, a small team of representatives of the people of Ladakh from both the districts will be formed for discussion with the Union government in the meeting to be taken by Amit Shah as decided in the meeting of Apex Body with the Home Ministry on January 7th, 2021.”