September 2001 News

Autonomy with trifurcation is the answer: Ladakh leader

3 September 2001
The Indian Express

New Delhi: A KEY campaigner for separate Union Territory status for Ladakh region, Lama Lobzang, has said that autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir could be the best solution possible for the state’s problems, if it is coupled with trifurcation of the state. The Lama, also a member of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Commission, said trifurcation was the only realistic solution to the Kashmir tangle within the ambit of the Constitution. Speaking to The Indian Express, the Lama said Ladakhis were ‘‘disturbed with the hobnobbing between the Centre and the J-K government over autonomy package.’’ Ladakhis, he said, foresaw a bleak future for themselves if more political powers were given to Jammu and Kashmir without giving cognisance to the feelings of the people of the other two regions. The Lama’s solution to Kashmir tangle is simple. ‘‘We can not hand over Kashmir to Pakistan, nor can we ignore the aspirations of Kashmiris. Giving them something within the ambit of the Constitution is the best possible solution and that could only be autonomy.’’ However, while the Ladakhis would not object to such a solution, the Lama said, they would demand a Union Territory status for themselves and probably Jammu people would seek statehood for themselves. Ladakh’s problem, the Lama said, was a gradual encroachment upon their land and political powers by the Kashmiri-speaking people. He alleged it was being done under a design and with the blessings from the National Conference government. Moreover, the state was communalising the situation in the border region by brazenly favouring Muslims in admissions to professional colleges and jobs against Buddhists. Lobzang, a respected religious and political leader in Ladakh, is considered close to the ruling party and its sister-groups like the RSS in Delhi. ‘‘We are a small community — the total population of Ladakh is equal to the number of daily births in the country — and if our demands are ignored we would have to fight for our survival,’’ a but bitter Lobzang remarked to The Indian Express. He said the Ladakhis have been meeting the Home minister and even Prime Minister over the issue. ‘‘They all agree with our views but express their helplessness, which is not acceptable to us.’’ The Ladakhis have documented the discrimination they have experienced at the hands of the ‘‘Kashmiri-dominated government’’ and the booklet is being distributed in Delhi among the MPs, leaders of political parties and opinion-makers.


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