Ladakh seeks own legislature amid PM Narendra Modi’s meeting with J&K politicians


a group of people walking down a street: Ladakh seeks own legislature amid PM Narendra Modi's meeting with J&K politicians

© Nachiket Deuskar Ladakh seeks own legislature amid PM Narendra Modi’s meeting with J&K politicians

A group of socio-religious and political parties in Ladakh on June 23 called for a legislature in the Union Territory along with safeguards such as the Sixth Scheduled of the Constitution. The demand came a day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir scheduled for June 24.

The group, an amalgam of nearly all Leh-based parties including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, said the decision was taken at a meeting which was attended by Ladakh’s Member of Parliament (MP) Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, among others.

Veteran politician Thupstan Chhewang told reporters that the group was formed in 2020 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,” news agency PTI quoted Chhewang as saying.

After Ladakh was carved out from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and given the status of a ‘Union Territory without legislature’ on August 5, 2019, the people had become apprehensive about their future without the protections guaranteed under Article 370 and Article 35A, Chhewang said.

“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.

Chhewang said that despite the fulfillment of the long-pending demand of the UT status, the aspirations of the Ladakhi people had remained unfulfilled.

He further said that even if it was granted a legislature, there would still be a need for safeguards like the Sixth Scheduled of the Constitution in the interest of the people of Ladakh, 95 percent of whom belong to various scheduled tribes.

Read: ‘Restore Article 370’, ‘full statehood’; What J&K political leaders will demand at meeting with PM Modi

Chhewang said that the Home Ministry has already started negotiations with the group but it has not reached the final stage as the Centre is yet to nominate members to the committee headed by Minister of State for Home GK 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’s incumbent MP to hold dialogue with the Home Minister in Delhi in July.

Representatives from Kargil 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 districts will be formed to hold talks with the union home minister, Chhewang said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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