Strike hits normal life in Ladakh, prominent leaders meet visiting MOS Home28 August 2021
Leh: A joint strike call given by Apex body of People's Movement for 6th Schedule and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) against the delay by the Centre in holding talks with them on their demand for statehood and constitutional safeguards to the region disrupted normal life in Ladakh Saturday. However, a joint delegation of the Apex body and the KDA met the visiting Minister of State (MoS) for Home Nityanand Rai Saturday afternoon after accepting his invitation. Both Apex body and KDA, which is a separate amalgam of socio-religious, political and youth organisations of Leh and Kargil districts, were formed after the August 5, 2019 when central government abrogated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two union territories of J&K and Ladakh. While the people of Leh have welcomed the fulfillment of their long pending demand of UT status and later formed the apex body in support of the demand for implementation of the sixth schedule of the constitution to safeguard their culture and identity, the KDA was not in the favour of UT status and raised the demand of statehood to Ladakh. However, on August 1, the ideologically different representatives of Kargil and Leh districts joined hands to seek full-fledged statehood along with constitutional safeguards for the region - eight months after their historic meeting last year. The Apex body and KDA are also demanding one more Lok Sabha seat and two Rajya Sabha seats besides a special recruitment drive for the local youth to fill up over 10,000 vacancies. The Apex body and the KDA called for the general strike in Ladakh on Saturday, claiming that their efforts to start a dialogue with the union home ministry was not positively responded and an attempt was made to 'divide the people of Ladakh' by inviting their constituents separately by the visiting MOS home instead of extending an invitation to a joint delegation, proposed by the Apex body and KDA. While the strike call paralysed normal life in both Leh and Kargil districts with all shops and business establishments closed, the union minister invited the joint delegation of the Apex body and KDA and held a meeting with them, officials said. 'The meeting took place in a cordial atmosphere and the union minister heard our demands patiently,' former minister and co-chairman of the KDA Qamar Ali Akhoon told reporters after the meeting. Akhoon, who was flanked by other prominent leaders including apex body leader and former MP Thupstang Chhewang and Co-chairman KDA Asgar Ali Karbalai, said the union minister assured them that the dialogue with them would continue for the resolution of their demands. He thanked the people of Ladakh for observing a 'complete strike' and said: 'we (the KDA and the apex body) will raise all their issues and seek their early redressal.' Besides the demand for statehood and constitutional safeguards for Ladakh, he said the delegation also raised the demand for filling up of vacancies to provide employment to the youth of the union territory.