Amid Unity Calls, Delhi Invites Leh, Kargil Separately For Talks

by Yawar Hussain

SRINAGAR: The central government has invited the Leh and Kargil representatives separately for talks even though the Apex Body of Leh had some days back called for a united representation for seeking the legislature for the union territory.

Leaders from Leh seeking the implementation of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India in Ladakh for protecting their identity and demography met Home Minister Amit Shah on September 26, 2020. On his assurance, they withdrew the decision of boycotting the October 16, LAHDC polls.

The invite by Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy, who heads the committee exploring the extension of protections under Schedule 6 to Lakakh, comes days after the Apex Body had demanded legislature for the cold desert region along with protections under the Schedule 6th of the Indian constitution.

The Apex Body in a press conference had said that they have reached out to the Kargil’s socio-religious and political outfits in order to jointly pitch for a legislature under the union territory framework.

The Apex Body said that the people of Ladakh need to be given the right to choose their own local government which can better augment the issues faced by the locals.

After J&K political parties met the Prime Minister in the national capital earlier this week, the Kargil Democratic Alliance and Apex Body Leh have been invited for talks with the Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy in the first week of July.

Meanwhile, Kargil Democratic Alliance has demanded the restoration of Article 370 & 35A, and statehood for the entire Ladakh.

A group photo of dignitaries and artists at Kargil Ladakh tourism festival 2018. KL Image by Shuaib Wani

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.

“Our demand for protected status under Schedule 6 stands. We lost the protection of our exclusive land and job rights when Articles 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.

The invite for talks comes days after an all-party meet of 14 J&K politicians was chaired by Prime Minister In New Delhi.

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