11 Kargil leaders demand Ladakh statehood, restoration of special status

Eleven political leaders and civil society members from Kargil in Ladakh on Wednesday met Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy during which they demanded the restoration of special status and the power to decide on permanent residents as well full statehood for Ladakh.

The meeting came a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted 14 leaders from Jammu and Kashmir during which the Centre urged them to help in the progress of the delimitation exercise while not promising immediate statehood to the union territory.

Earlier, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had hosted leaders from Ladakh following which those from Kargil demanded a separate meeting saying that their concerns are different though they are part of the union territory of Ladakh.

After the two-and-hour-long meeting, senior Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) Asgar Ali Karbalai (Congress) said they had two clear agendas. “We discussed the restoration of Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution as well as full statehood for Ladakh. More meetings are to be followed to discuss this,” Karbalai said.

Another KDA leader Qamar Ali Akhoon (National Conference) also said their focus was Article 370 and Article 35A.

“We also said that we were against the division of Jammu and Kashmir. But were in favour of the state. We are not comfortable with the status of Union Territory. We also discussed development of the region,” he added.

A senior MHA official said the meeting was in continuation of earlier deliberations with representatives from Ladakh to address their concerns about protection of their culture, land and language.

The meeting with representatives from Ladakh with Home Minister Amit Shah on January 6 this year had decided that a committee under Reddy would be set up to find an appropriate solution to the issues related to language of Ladakh, culture of Ladakh and conservation of land in Ladakh.

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