December 2017 News

Ladakh Leaders Push For Separation From Kashmir

20 December 2017
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Arteev Sharma

Jammu: Given the 'discriminatory' policies of successive governments towards the remote Ladakh region, the regional divide has deepened to such an extent in Jammu and Kashmir that the elected representatives of Ladakhi people are now openly demanding 'separation of Ladakh from the Kashmir hegemony'. Their grudge against the Kashmir-centric leadership lies rooted in the alleged decades-long discrimination against the people of Ladakh in every sphere, be it for jobs, education, benefits of schemes or political representation. 'We want to be separate from Kashmir because Kashmir-centric leadership, Kashmir-centric policy and the Kashmir-centric administration always discriminate against Ladakh (both Kargil and Leh) in terms of funds, jobs, schemes, political representations, and much more. So there's no reason left for us to stay with Kashmir. Free Ladakh from Kashmir,' Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, a councillor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh, wrote on Facebook. Ladakh, comprising Buddhist-dominated Leh and Shia Muslim-dominated Kargil districts, has been demanding union territory status for the region but the people in Kargil, apart from Buddhists, are opposed to the idea of division of the state. Namgyal said there were a few people in Kargil who always mislead the media saying 'all the people of Kargil don't support UT status'. 'But truth can't be hidden. I believe that 70% of Kargil strongly supports the UT demand,' he wrote. Thupstan Chhewang, the lone Member of Parliament of the BJP from Ladakh, told The Tribune that anger of people was 'genuine' as they had always been discriminated against by successive regimes during the past seven decades. 'Over the years, nothing has changed on the ground for Ladakh. No justice has been delivered to them. We were against the idea of forming an alliance government in the state with the PDP fearing that it would further alienate the people and that is what is happening in Ladakh now,' Chhewang said. 'The wise people of Kargil also fully support the UT demand but they don't make it public due to certain compulsions. The day will come when people will definitely see their dream getting fulfilled,' he added. Asked about his party's failure to grant UT status to Ladakh, the MP admitted that it would be a major challenge for him to face the people in the next parliamentary elections in 2019. Sonam Dawa Lonpo, Chief Executive Councillor (CEC), Leh Council, had recently said the people of Ladakh were suffering badly due to the Kashmir situation. 'We want to tell the Centre that it should not link us with Kashmir. We are not against what will be given to Kashmir but our demand is clear that we want separation from Kashmir,' the CEC had said. Syed Mohammad Baqir Razvi, an independent MLA from the Zanskar segment, said people were for the formation of 'Greater Ladakh' comprising Kargil, Ladakh, Gilgit-Baltistan and all areas which were part of the Ladakh region before Partition.