Congress to escalate demand for including Ladakh in sixth schedule
The main opposition party has launched a programme – ‘Chaurahe Pe Charcha (discussion at street corners)’ – in different parts of the region to galvanise public support in favour of its demand.Updated: Jan 02, 2020 02:42 IST
The Congress is set to escalate its demand for including the Union Territory of Ladakh in the sixth schedule of the Constitution to protect the resources and cultural identity of the region.
The main opposition party has launched a programme – ‘Chaurahe Pe Charcha (discussion at street corners)’ – in different parts of the region to galvanise public support in favour of its demand.
The decision to hit the streets was taken after a group of Congress leaders from Kargil and Ladakh met the central leadership last month and demanded that the party should take a lead on the issue, given the fear among the locals that the influx of outsiders would change the region’s demography, impacting their culture and identity.
Without any Constitutional safeguard, the leaders argued that the “identity of the Ladakh region will be severely under threat” from outsiders, said a member of the group on the condition of anonymity.
He said the leaders also stressed the need to empower hill councils under the sixth schedule as otherwise the UT status will be meaningless in safeguarding the land rights, economic interest and job reservation for locals apart from preserving culture and language.
As part of its strategy, the Congress is also going to mobilize support from all the religious communities and social organizations.
“The broad thinking in the party is that while the people of Ladakh were initially happy after the region was given the UT status, slowly the fear of exploitation by outsiders overtook the celebrations as a result of which the locals are apprehensive that they got a raw deal from the central government,” another Congress leader from Ladakh said.
His views were echoed by Congress general secretary in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh Ambika Soni in Parliament in the winter session.
She said the people in Ladakh feel they lack constitutional legality to safeguard their cultural heritage and identity unlike that enjoyed by the north eastern states such as Assam, Tripura, Mizoram and Meghalaya which are covered under the sixth schedule of the Constitution.
“People in Leh, Ladakh were happy initially and welcomed the announcement of the Union Territory as opposed to Kargil. However, the initial euphoria is now giving way to a lot of apprehension, fear and disenchantment. The locals feel they will not be able to protect and safeguard their resources or their unique cultural identity,” Soni had told the Rajya Sabha last month.