Ahead of J&K talks, Ladakh rakes up demand for Legislature

Leh delegation in a meeting with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Leh delegation in a meeting with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Will float joint platform, meet Home Minister

CEC, others call on Defence Minister

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, June 23: The Apex Body of Leh, a conglomerate of various socio-religious organizations, today said it will now demand Legislature for the Union Territory of Ladakh and 6th Schedule or its like status for preservation of culture, identity, land etc of the local people and declared that it will reach out to the political parties and other organizations in Kargil to float joint platform for the purpose which will be headed by Lok Sabha member from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgayal.

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Separately, Chief Executive Councilor (CEC)-cum-Chairman Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh Tashi Gyalson and the Deputy Chairman among others met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi today and briefed him on the issues pertaining to the Union Territory of Ladakh.
A statement jointly signed by BJP MP from Ladakh Jamyang Namgayal and Apex Body Chairman Thupstan Chhewang, former two-time Lok Sabha member from Ladakh released at a press conference of the Apex Body addressed by Chhewang in Leh, said in their meeting with Union Minister of State for Home GK Reddy, whenever held, the demand of the people of Ladakh with be for UT Ladakh with a Legislature.
“We will demand Legislature for Ladakh as we are of the considered view that elected representatives of the people can take better decisions and frame rules for betterment of the people of the Union Territory,’’ Chhewang said, adding the demand for Legislature was necessitated as the present administration hasn’t come up to expectations of the people.
Apart from the Legislature, Chhewang said the Apex Body will also insist on grant of 6th Schedule of the Indian Constitution to Ladakh. Besides Jamyang Namgayal, other senior leaders of the Apex Body were also present at the press conference.
However, he added, in case there are certain Constitutional problems in granting Sixth Schedule, the Apex Body will demand Sixth Schedule-like status to Ladakh.
“Efforts will also be made to enlist support of various organizations of Kargil district as well in a joint meeting of representatives of the two districts in which, apart from seeking consensus on decisions, a small team of representatives of the people of Ladakh from both the districts will be formed for discussions with the Union Government in a meeting to be taken by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, as decided in the meeting of the Apex Body with the Union Home Ministry on January 7,” the joint statement, which was read out at the press conference by Chhewang, said.
The Apex Body Chairman said they will like the Kargil bodies to join them and come on single platform which will be headed by Ladakh Lok Sabha member and then they can together meet the Union Home Minister with the demand for Legislature to Ladakh and Sixth Schedule or its like Status to the Union Territory to safeguard rights of the people of Ladakh.
“We will shortly visit Kargil and will then like the representatives from that district to travel here. If a joint platform is formed, we will meet the Union Home Minister together with our demand for Legislature to UT of Ladakh and Sixth Schedule status for safeguards of rights of the people including their land, culture, identity etc,’’ the Apex Body Chairman said.
The demand for Legislature to Ladakh comes just a day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s All-Party Meeting on Jammu and Kashmir in which top brass of J&K has been invited for talks.
Insiders said the Ladakh bodies feel that it was the right time to rake up their issues which have been pending since January and they were confident that the Union Home Ministry will shortly call political parties and other organizations including the Apex Body for talks in New Delhi after dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir.
The Apex Body is of the view that Sikkim-like 30 seats Legislature can be given to Ladakh.
It may be mentioned here that while bifurcating the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, the Centre had granted 90-seat Legislature to J&K but kept Ladakh without Legislature on the ground that it has two elected Hill Development Councils—one each in Leh and Kargil.
Meanwhile, LAHDC Leh Chairman-cum-CEC Tashi Gyalson, Deputy Chairman Leh and other leaders today met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi and discussed with him the issues faced by the people residing in border regions of Ladakh.
They also discussed Wildlife restriction on the border hampering developmental activities, vacating CTA land at Melong Thang & Thoise Airport, enhancing wages of Siachen porters and other facilities to them and opening of Turtuk-Hanu road.
The Defence Minister is reported to have assured the delegation that their issues will be looked into and a decision taken on them shortly.

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