In a meeting with the central government, political leaders of Ladakh region on Thursday conveyed the Home Ministry their displeasure and anger over the abrogation of Article 370 and dismembering of Jammu and Kashmir and sought restoration of Articles 370, 35A and statehood to Ladakh.
The talks between the leaders from Ladakh and Union Minister for State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy started at 11 a.m. at the Home Ministry in New Delhi and concluded after four hours.
The latest meeting with political leaders of Ladakh came after a similar meeting of Jammu and Kashmir leaders with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 24.
“We had two agendas. One was restoration of Article 370, Article 35A and the other was statehood for Ladakh region,” says Asgar Ali Karbali, co-chairman of Kargil Democratic Alliance.
In October last year Kargil Democratic Alliance, an amalgam of different political and religious parties of the region was formed to press for the restoration of Article 370.
Karbali told Outlook political leaders from Ladakh talked at length about the government’s decision of August 5, 2019, and informed the Minister how it has adversely impacted people of the Ladakh region. “Everyone was allowed to speak. There was some hard talk from some of the leaders. We told them how we have suffered since 1947 and how we have been ignored about crucial decisions about our existence,” he said.
He said the first demand from the KDA was the restoration of Article 370 and the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. He says they also sought separate statehood for Ladakh with Article 370 and Article 35A like guarantees.
He said if Sikkim can get statehood with the legislature and independent judiciary, why Ladakh is denied the same. “Our leaders informed the government that under Articles 370 and 35A Ladakh region was enjoying autonomy and had all rights. After its abrogation, we are in no man’s land. We don’t know, who is Ladakhi, as no law has been passed or extended to Ladakh by the government since the abrogation of the Articles 370 and 35A,” he said. Karbali said the meeting was held in a cordial manner and the Minister was very responsive. He said the Minister conveyed to them that he will take the concerns of the leadership of Ladakh to the Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Karbali expected more talks about the issue in the coming weeks.
Earlier the Ministry had held talks with the apex body of the Peoples Movement for Sixth Schedule, an amalgam of different political and religious organizations of Leh.
On June 23, a day ahead of talks between J&K leaders and the Prime Minister, a joint leadership of the Apex Body including the BJP said they will be demanding separate legislature for the UT of Ladakh and special schedule in the constitution of India for Ladakh.
They said they will be asking for a separate schedule of the Constitution of India for safeguarding land ownership, job reservation, environmental and cultural preservation, and other common interests of the inhabitants of the Ladakh region.
In the Leh region, people had welcomed the revocation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, but soon after they started asking for special status for the UT of Ladakh to preserve demography, land, environment, and culture. In contrast to Leh, protests were held in Kargil against the revocation of Article 370. Political parties in Kargil have been asking for the restoration of the erstwhile state of J&K.