Ladakh shuts down as thousands plead for statehood

Ladakh witnessed a shutdown with thousands marching to advocate for statehood and constitutional protections under the sixth schedule for the Union Territory.

| Updated: 05 February, 2024 4:42 pm IST

SRINAGAR: Ladakh witnessed a shutdown with thousands marching to advocate for statehood and constitutional protections under the sixth schedule for the Union Territory.

The protests were co-organized by the Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance. In freezing temperatures, men and women rallied through Leh’s main city, passionately chanting slogans for Ladakh’s statehood, the enforcement of the sixth schedule, and the allocation of separate parliament seats for Leh and Kargil districts.

While talking to The New Indian, Jigmat Paljor, a Youth Member of Ladakh Apex body said “Despite the bone-chilling cold, Leh Chalo Andolan call of Apex body witnessed the largest ever public gathering of around more than 20,000 people in favour of the constitutional protection under the 6th schedule of the Indian Constitution and the 4-point demand in general.”

He added, “This shows that the people of Ladakh stand determined, strong and united in their fervent call for these demands.”

The shutdown persisted despite the Centre’s announcement of a second round of talks with representatives from the Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance. A high-powered committee, led by Minister of State (Home Affairs) Nityanand Rai, has been formed by the Centre to address the demands of Ladakh’s people.

While speaking to The New Indian, Member of Kargil Democratic Alliance Sajjad Kargili said “ We have four demands including statehood for Ladakh, sixth schedule, public service commission and job safeguards and one separate parliamentary seat for Kargil and Leh”.

He added, “ We have already submitted a written memorandum to the Ministry of Home Affairs and now it is up to the government whether they are going to fulfil the demands of our people or not.”

The residents of Ladakh expressed their discontent with the prolonged bureaucratic rule in the Union Territory, emphasizing that only full statehood, allowing them to elect representatives for regional governance, would meet their demands. In December, the Centre conducted its initial meeting in Ladakh, instructing both Leh and Kargil bodies to submit their respective demands.

Ladakh became a distinct Union Territory following the abrogation of Article 370, which led to the bifurcation of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories in August 2019. However, within a mere two years, the residents of Leh and Kargil felt politically marginalized and united in opposition to the Centre.

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