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Is BJP In Quandary In Ladakh After A 'Historical' Strike?

BJP Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal demands constitutional safeguards for Ladakh.

Is BJP In Quandary In Ladakh After A 'Historical' Strike?
Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal. | File Photo
Is BJP In Quandary In Ladakh After A 'Historical' Strike?
outlookindia.com
2021-12-15T10:38:15+05:30

A day after a 'historical' strike in Ladakh Union Territory for the demand of statehood to the region, BJP has joined the fray with Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal who raised his voice in Parliament demanding constitutional safeguard for Ladakh on the line of Sixth Schedule. He sought protection for land, employment, environment and cultural identity of the region.

Though Namgyal insisted his taking up the issue in Parliament has nothing to do with the joint strike call of the Apex Body of Leh and Kargil Democratic Alliance on December 13, Ladakh observers say growing demand for the statehood in the region seems to have compelled the MP to take this line to keep the BJP relevant in the region.

Namgyal during the ongoing session of Lok Sabha on Tuesday said the aspirations of the people of Ladakh demanding for constitutional safeguards must be fulfilled through amendment of Ladakh autonomous hill development council act on the line of the sixth schedule of the Indian Constitution. He said it must also define the proper role and responsibilities of the Central Govt, UT administration and the hill Council by way of amendment in the Council Act. He said streamlining between the Autonomous Hill Development Councils of Ladakh, Panchayat Raj Institutions and also Administration of Union Territory Ladakh is a must to avoid the conflicts of role, power and jurisdictions of responsibilities.

Namgyal demanded to strengthen the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils by providing all the better provisions that are given and provided to the Autonomous District Councils under the Sixth and fifth Schedules of the Indian Constitution.

Namgyal told Outlook that the December 13 strike in Ladakh and his statement of December 14 in parliament demanding constitutional safeguards are not interlinked.

“As an elected representative of the people of Ladakh, I had already given my commitment to my people time and again assuring to raise the voice of my people for constitutional safeguards on the line of 6th Schedule for Ladakh in regard to land, employment, environment and cultural identity,” he added.

“Ladakh bandh was for demanding full-fledged statehood status for Ladakh which I still consider a debatable topic as many of sections of our society is opposing the same for various reasons,” he added.

While strikes have been common in Kashmir for the past 30 years, the Union Territory of Ladakh witnessed an unprecedented strike on Monday with roads deserted, business establishments and shops closed and people preferred to stay inside homes both in Leh and Kargil.

The strike call was jointly given by the Apex Body of Leh, a conglomerate of various religious and political organisations of Leh, and the Kargil Democratic Alliance, a grouping of religious and political organisations of Kargil. This is the first such strike in Ladakh’s history where both Kargil and Leh were on the same page.

The Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance seek full-fledged statehood for Ladakh, constitutional safeguards on the lines of the Sixth schedule to safeguard demography, environment and unique culture of Ladakh. They also seek two Lok Sabha seats for the region, a Rajya Sabha seat and a filling up of 10,000 to 12,000 vacancies to overcome unemployment in the region.

After the abrogation of Article 370 and Ladakh becoming a separate Union Territory, it was assumed that the Ladakh region got a solution for all its problems. However, the region’s intellectuals and the politicians have been repeatedly raising concern over the demography, land and unique culture of the region and are saying the statehood with legislature would be able to give them necessary safeguards. The region’s politicians initially sought Sixth Schedule but gradually they have scaled the bar and are calling for complete statehood for the region.

In November 2019, Ladakh’s famous inventor Ramon Magsaysay and Rolex Awards winner Sonam Wangchuk in a widely-circulated video had said people in the region have started even asking whether the status of a UT was granted to others to exploit the vast resources of Ladakh and there are apprehensions if India will do the same as what China did in Tibet. The government has a task cut in Ladakh amid border stand-off with China, one to mitigate such fears and another to whether to initiate dialogue with representatives of the Ladakh region, who have now in unison in their demands and aspirations.

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