Ladakh groups protest in Delhi, seek statehood | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Ladakh groups protest in Delhi, seek statehood

Feb 16, 2023 08:50 AM IST

A section of leaders, students and citizens from Ladakh on Wednesday staged a protest in the national capital, demanding statehood with a legislature and the  implementation of Schedule VI in the region

A section of leaders, students and citizens from Ladakh on Wednesday staged a protest in the national capital, demanding statehood with a legislature and the implementation of Schedule VI in the region.

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The protest was held more than three years after the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories (UTs) – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh – by the Union government was welcomed by the Ladakh division. The demand to declare Ladakh as separate UT was long pending in the region. However, while J&K has a legislature, Ladakh was declared a UT without legislature.

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Leaders from both Kargil and Leh divisions, under the banner of Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance, demanded implementation of Schedule VI, under Article 244 for formation of autonomous district councils that have some legislative, judicial, and administrative autonomy within a state.

Thupstan Chhewang, former lawmaker from Ladakh and part of the protest, said the Union government assured his people that provisions will be made to safeguard the land and ecology of the strategically significant region that shares border with China.

“Now whatever discussions have to be held will be conveyed to Union home minister Amit Shah as the high-powered committee has no powers. The committee did not include the demands of the two main organisations the apex body and the Kargil Democratic Alliance in the agenda for discussion,” he said.

Chhewang, who was earlier with the Bharatiya Janata Party, claimed that the demand to delink Ladakh from J&K was made to distance the region from the “secessionist forces” in the erstwhile state who “spoke about breaking national unity and went against the Constitution”.

Educationist and ice stupas creator, Sonam Wangchuk who undertook a 5-day fast in Khardung-la to press for the demand to secure the fragile ecology of the region by implementing Schedule VI, said, “We accepted the formation of UT without a legislature as democratic devolution of power for autonomy, but later we realised it was centralisation.”

The government is making efforts to reach out to the protesting groups, one of its functionaries said. “But they have complaints about the composition of the committee. We have requested them to put forth these concerns,” he said.

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