SRINAGAR: Years before the Red Army started systematic incursions into Ladakh, Leh and Kargil had done almost the same thing to Himachal, a huge belt in Lahul Spiti believes. Ladakh is accused of resorting to same kind of incursion into Lahul, albeit for economic reasons.
Now, Himachal Pradesh is pressing for an early resolution of its border issue with Ladakh, now a Union Territory. It is basically the residents of Lahul and Spiti who are seeking an early resolution of the border tensions between the two neighbours.
The issues involve Sarchu and Shinkula pass, according to reports appearing in the media.
“The conflict has been going on for long, with Lahaul residents alleging encroachment on Himachal Pradesh land by people in Ladakh. They allege there has been no effort on part of the state government to resolve the dispute,” Chandigarh based newspaper, The Tribune reported. It quoted Ramesh Kumar Rulba, Chairperson, Zila Parishad Lahaul-Spiti, saying: “The residents are apprehensive that with the resumption of tourism at Sarchu and Shinkula pass, the conflict may worsen as youth from both sides are involved in business activities in the area.”
The administration has not been part of the “dispute” but the trade from the two sides has been fighting quite often. “Youth from Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh have set up camping sites at Sarchu and Shinkula for tourists,” Rigzin Samphel Heyreppa, chairperson, Lahaul-Spiti Eco-Tourism Society, was quoted saying. “They often clash with each other over boundary issue. It is a serious matter and should be resolved soon.”
Ravi Thakur, who represented Lahaul-Spiti in the Shmila assembly earlier has said that the residents of Leh have set up camps up to 14 km into the Himachal territory at Sarchu, and the Kargil residents carry out commercial activities till 35 km inside our territory at Shinkula.
This is not for the first time that the resident of Lahul and Spiti are seeking resolution of a festering mess that has erupted on the Manali-Leh Highway.
In 2018, the residents of Leh and Kargil had entered into a scuffle and pelted stones on the Lahul Spiti residents over the use of the land in Sarchu.
Though Sarchu, almost 222 km from Manali, is officially a part of the Lahaul-Spiti district, the Jammu and Kashmir had earlier set up a post almost 17 km inside Himachal’s territory. The spot is a huge tourist spot, a fascinating camping site and it witnesses massive crowds between May and September. Sarchu is the starting point for challenging the Zanskar Trek of Ladakh.
The crisis had earlier invited the attention of the Survey General of India. At one point in time, Thakur said, when the Survey General of India visited the spot in presence of Deputy Commission’s of Kargil and Leh, it was decided that the two governments would deposit some mandatory fees to the Geological Survey of India for final demarcation. However, neither Himachal nor the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir government paid the fees as a result of which the issue is still hanging.