New Delhi- An influential organisation of Ladakh Sunday withdrew its call for a boycott of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) polls in Leh after the Centre assured its demands for protection of local language, jobs, land and demography will be considered positively.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah also assured a delegation of the People’s Movement for Constitutional Safeguard Under Sixth Schedule for Ladakh that the Central government is committed to empower the LAHDC of Leh and Kargil and would protect the interests of the people of the Union Territory.
Shah also assured that the Centre would explore all avenues towards this objective including under the 6th Schedule of the Constitution.
In a joint statement, former Ladakh MPs Thiksay Rinpoche and Thupstan Chhewang, former J&K minister Chhering Dorje and Union ministers Kiren Rijiju and G Kishan Reddy said the delegation was assured that all issues related to language, demography, ethnicity, land and jobs will be considered positively and taken care of.
A dialogue between a larger Ladakhi delegation comprising representatives from Leh and Kargil districts under the aegis of Peoples Movement for Constitutional Safeguard Under Sixth Schedule for Ladakh and Union Home Ministry would commence after 15 days of the culmination of LAHDC, Leh elections.
Any decision so reached in this connection would be in consultation with the representatives from Leh and Kargil, the statement, which came a day after the Ladakhi leaders met Shah, said.
The statement said the Centre is open to discuss protection of Ladakh’s language, demography, ethnicity, land and jobs under the 6th schedule of Constitution and other provisions while looking into issues related to Ladakhi people.
The delegation has agreed to withdraw its call for the boycott of the ensuing LAHDC, Leh elections and promised its wholesome support to the smooth conduct of these elections, it said.
Addressing a press conference, along with the Ladakhi leaders, Rijiju said that Union MoS for Home G Kishan Reddy, who was sitting beside him, would visit Ladakh Monday and meet a cross sections of people in the Union Territory to allay their apprehensions.
Chhewang said after the abrogation of Article 370, which gave special status to J&K, people of Ladakh have some apprehensions about their future, land, culture and jobs since there is no longer any legislative body there.
After creation of the UT, people thought that the autonomous bodies will be empowered. Unfortunately, the kind of work should have been done, did not happen. Covid pandemic also played a role, he said.
Many people thought that powers of the autonomous bodies have been curtailed. There have been strong feelings of unhappiness. We were worried that such unhappiness among the youths should not go in wrong way, he said.
The Peoples Movement for Constitutional Safeguard Under Sixth Schedule for Ladakh, he said, has been seeking the empowerment of the autonomous bodies similar to the Bodo Territorial Council in Assam under the 6th schedule of the constitution.
The former MP said after their meeting with the home minister, they now think that their apprehensions will be addressed and people’s rights protected.
Chhewang said people of Ladakh have been doing their best for the security of the nation since 1947 and even helping the Indian Army now when China is trying to making incursion (Atikraman) in Ladakh.
He praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh for taking proactive steps during the current standoff with China, and said no government in the past has taken such decisions.
When the Indian Army was facing difficulties to send ration to some of the heights it has captured, the people of Ladakh voluntarily delivered the ration to these posts.
Because of the sacrifice the people of Ladakh have been making since 1947, there has been expectation that the central government would sympathetically resolve the problems of Ladakh, he said.
The former MP also said their agitation should not be linked with issues of the Kashmir valley and they were also not in favour of a domicile law similar to UT of Jammu and Kashmir.
Rijiju said the provision of the 6th Schedule and other provisions of the constitution will be looked into to allay the apprehensions of the people of Ladakh and protect their rights
On September 22, the recently floated People’s Movement for Constitutional Safeguard Sixth Schedule for Ladakh announced the boycott of the upcoming elections to LAHDC Leh.
The LAHDC Leh is scheduled to go to polls on October 16 — the first such exercise in the region after Ladakh was carved out from Jammu and Kashmir and granted the Union Territory status on August 5 last year following the abrogation of special status to the erstwhile state.
When Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two UTs, it was announced that the UT of Jammu and Kashmir would have a legislative assembly but UT of Ladakh would not have any legislature.
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