Move to put J&K trifurcation on peace talks agenda
8 May 2001
The Hindustan Times
Jammu: There are serious attempts to put the trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir on the Government’s peace talks agenda. Sources said, moves are afoot to make Buddhists reiterate their demand for Union Territory status for Leh, the Buddhist-dominated region on the extreme north of Jammu and Kashmir. In fact, preparations are already underway. The Ladakh Buddhist Association is unrelenting on the issue. It wants nothing short of Union Territory status for Leh. Its argument is that Ladakh has nothing to do with the Kashmiri demand for " azadi" or merger with Pakistan. The LBA is opposed to even the National Conference's demand for greater autonomy to J&K Buddhists in Ladakh want to be part of India and governed by Indian laws and have no truck with those talking of separation or secession from India. A deputation of Ladakhi Buddhists which met the Centre’s chief interloctor on Kashmir talks, Mr. K.C. Pant, made it clear that Buddhists in Leh were strongly in favour of a separate identity. This situation has thrown up the trifurcation issue for the peace talks. The Jammu Mukti Morcha and Jammu and Kashmir Nationalist Front (JKNF) are making preparations to demand statehood for Jammu - the Hindu-dominated region. The pro-statehood organisations in Jammu have put forward the argument that Jammu's aspirations can be met only after it moves out of the suzerainty of Kashmir.