'Own us as integral part of J&K' | india | Hindustan Times
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'Own us as integral part of J&K'

india Updated: Aug 30, 2013 17:41 IST
Peerzada Ashiq

Despite a deep yearning to bridge the gap between them and their counterparts in the Kashmir and Jammu regions, people are unhappy in Ladakh over the treatment meted out to them once they are in Srinagar and Jammu cities.

"Every time we come to Srinagar and Jammu cities, remarks are passed about our distinctive facial features. It is very common occurrence and very irritating," said Shara Bano, a senior member of the Women Centre of Ladakh.

A survey conducted by the Conciliation Resources, a peace-building NGO, among students of Ladakh last week throws up some startling disclosures.

Several students complained that people in Jammu and Srinagar do not own them as part of the state.

"Recognise Leh as an integral part of Jammu and Kashmir. Do not sideline us as another backward mountainous district. There is a need to end the discrimination and weird approach towards our people and culture," wrote Rigzin Lhami and Irene Skyongzin in response to a question wherein students were asked about two things they want to change in Srinagar and Jammu.

Another student, Tsering Chorol, asked, "Students prefer Chandigarh and Delhi than Jammu for higher studies. Why is this happening?"

Most students said their interaction with the Valley has snapped after militancy broke out. "It (the Valley) is not safe for studies because of turmoil," said a student.

The survey also pointed towards deep empathy among Ladakhis towards environmental and societal concerns of their counterparts in Jammu and Kashmir regions.

Most students stressed on the need to save the Dal Lake and preserve environment in Kashmir. The students through their write-ups highlighted the need to tackle crime in Jammu and suggested proper and modern planning for the city.
The feeling of discrimination, according to the survey, is irrespective of religion.

"More cross-cultural exchanges within the state are important to bridge the divide," wrote Ayesha Malo and Naseema Bano in their response in the survey.
There is a growing fear that more administrative powers to the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), which was empowered in 2002, may deepen the gulf between people living in Ladakh with their counterparts in the state. There are chances that the more powers will reduce the interaction between the regions.
"A university campus is opening in Leh. We are hopeful that education can bridge the gap between regions and people. We will see if we can get students from the Valley to the Leh campus for more interaction," said Nawang Rigzin Jora, a senior Congress leader and a state minister.

"We are for bridging the gap," he added.

The narrative of discrimination and sense of being looked down upon has already fuelled a political movement demanding the Union Territory status for Ladakh.