September 2019 News

Tribal Status Likely For Ladakh

8 September 2019
The Tribune

Jammu: The newly created Union Territory of Ladakh is most likely to get 'tribal area' status following the National Commission of Scheduled Tribes (NCST) recommending the proposal to the Centre. Sources said the ministries of Home Affairs, Law and Parliamentary Affairs, and Tribal Affairs have also 'broadly' agreed to the proposal forwarded by Ladakh's lone Member of Parliament Jamyang Tsering Namgyal in the last week of August. 'The issue was discussed by the representatives of the ministries concerned and the commission on September 4 and they broadly agreed to the proposal for tribal area status to Ladakh. The discussions revolved around the various provisions of the Fifth and the Sixth Schedule,' official sources said. Earlier, the NCST had wanted to know the reasons why none of the union territories with a predominantly tribal population - Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli or Andaman and Nicobar Islands - had been declared tribal areas. Talking to 'The Tribune' over phone, Gyal P. Wangyal, Chief Executive Councillor (CEC) of Leh Council and senior BJP leader, said: 'Our Member of Parliament submitted a memorandum to the Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda seeking tribal area status for Ladakh as nearly 98 per cent of its population is tribal. Our only demand is that Ladakh should be brought under the Sixth Schedule so that our land remains protected. We have learnt that the NCST has recommended the same and we are hopeful that we will get it soon'. Pertinently, the Sixth Schedule provides for the administration of tribal areas in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram after setting up autonomous district and regional councils. While executive powers of the Union extend to scheduled areas with respect to their administration in the Fifth Schedule, the Sixth Schedule areas remain under the executive authority of the state. The people of Ladakh region have welcomed the Centre's 'historic decision' of revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, and granting Ladakh a union territory status but they have been expressing their apprehensions over the inflow of outsiders, which could lead to a change in the region's demography and jeopardise their culture and identity. Namgyal could not be contacted for comments as he was on a visit to Mongolia.