Ahead of crucial J&K talks, Ladakh parties bat for legislature, constitutional safeguards

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Updated: Wednesday, June 23, 2021, 23:06 [IST]

Leh, Jun 23: A day before the meeting of mainstream parties from J&K with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi, a grouping of socio religious and political parties in Ladakh on Wednesday raised the demand for a legislature in the UT along with safeguards like the Sixth Scheduled of the Constitution.

Ahead of crucial J&K talks, Ladakh parties bat for legislature, constitutional safeguards

The group, an amalgam of almost all Leh-based parties including BJP and Congress, said the decision was taken at a meeting which was among others attended by Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, veteran politician Thupstan Chhewang told reporters here.

Chhewang, who was flanked by prominent leaders including Namgyal, said the grouping was formed last year to press for safeguards under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to the union territory and has held two meetings with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the past.

“The Prime Minister has invited Kashmiri leaders for talks and some important decision with regard to J&K is expected.

Watching the development, we want the pending issues of Ladakh are also addressed as well to dispel the apprehensions of the people of Ladakh in respect of land ownership, job reservation and environmental protection, cultural preservation and other common interests,” Chhewang said.

He said after Ladakh was carved out from Jammu and Kashmir and given the status of union territory without legislature on August 5, 2019, the people are apprehensive about their future without the protections guaranteed under Article 370 and Article 35A. “After the formation of the UT, the work of the local administration was not up to the mark and after deliberations at the meeting of the apex body, we felt the need that we should have our own legislature to have the right to make laws,” the former MP said.

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He said despite the fulfilment of the long-pending demand of the UT status, the aspirations of the Ladakhi people have remained unfulfilled. He further said that even if the UT is granted a legislature, there is also a need for safeguards like the Sixth Scheduled of the Constitution in the interest of the people of Ladakh, 95 per cent of whom belong to various scheduled tribes.

Chhewang said the Home Ministry has already started negotiations with the group but it has yet to reach the final stage as the Centre is yet to nominate members to the committee headed by Minister of State for Home G K Reddy. He said the group decided to reach out to the socio-religious and political groups in Kargil and take them on board before finalising its panel under the leadership of Ladakh MP to hold dialogue with the Home Minister in Delhi next month.

“The Kargil representatives will be invited to Leh to elicit their support. Apart from seeking consensus on the two important decisions, a small team of representatives from both the districts will be formed to hold talks with the union home minister,” he said.

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