Himachal asks J-K to settle land dispute at Sarchu
With the tourist season about to begin, the Himachal Pradesh government has asked Jammu and Kashmir to settle a long-pending territorial dispute – not to put up a police post at Sarchu on the Leh-Manali highway.
The HP government has suggested that cops from both states should put up police posts on their side of the border and not on the disputed territory in Sarchu, which is at a height of 14,070 feet.
“We have written to the district administration in Leh and Zanskar in the past too and have raised the matter again,” Lahual and Spiti deputy commissioner AK Chaudhary said.
What is the row
A controversy cropped up in July 2014, when the Jammu and Kashmir police set up its post at Sarchu. As the matter came to the notice of the Himachal Police, their crime investigation department (CID) sleuths visited the area to ascertain the factual position. Himachal police claimed that the post was 18km inside the state boundary in Sarchu.
Himachal raised objection with Jammu and the Kashmir government, calling for settlement of the dispute. However, Jammu and Kashmir police set post in Himachal’s claimed border in 2015 -2016, and in 2017. The Himachal government, in its letter to Jammu and Kashmir, said the boundary at Sarchu in the two states had been drawn in 1871 by the British rulers. The Himachal Police also shot off a letter to J&K Police asking them to remove the post from the disputed point.
The government asked the Ladakh and Kargil administrations to also put up signage on interstate borders. It also suggested for set up separate check post by Jammu and Kashmir police and Himachal Pradesh police on the interstate border.
Geological Survey of India suggested complete demarcation
The Himachal government in the 2016 wrote to the Geological Survey of India that suggested re-demarcation of the boundary at Sarchu. The GSI team visited the disputed region in Sarchu last year. GSI official, in the presence of deputy commissioners of Lahaul and Spiti, Zanskar and Kargil, explained the interstate boundary.
The team, which was sent to the ground to verify the existing boundary, concluded that Jammu and Kashmir police had set up its check post 14km inside Himachal boundary. The meeting remained inconclusive as deputy commissioner of Leh disputed the findings.
Leh district administration said it would take up the matter with higher authorities before allowing GSI to re-demarcate the land. Geological Survey of India had asked both governments to deposit money to re-demarcate the land. Himachal also expressed reservations over allotment of land to people of Kargil and Shinkula on Himachal’s side in Sarchu that usually experiences heavy tourist rush in May and June. Sarchu is also an important trading point on the ancient silk route.