Ladakh Groups Meet In Kargil, Agree To Hold Talks With Centre On 4-Point Agenda

The Leh Apex Body (LAB) and the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) also extended support to the 10-day fast announced by Ladakhi icon Sonam Wangchuk.

Protesters from Ladakh raise statehood and other demands in a protest in Jammu.

Leading sociopolitical groups of Ladakh met in Kargil on Tuesday and agreed to hold talks with the Centre on their four-point agenda. 

The Leh Apex Body (LAB) and the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) have been agitating for months over a set of demands, including the extension of Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to Ladakh and the elevation of Ladakh from Union Territory (UT) to a full-fledged state. 

The LAB and KDA in their meeting also extended support to the 10-day fast announced by Ladakhi icon Sonam Wangchuk on the four-point agenda.

What emerged out of the meeting?

If the government extends an invitation, the core committee of the bodies will select a joint delegation for the dialogue, said Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) co-chairperson Asgar Ali Karbalai.

"We are ready for talks with the Centre, whether at the level of home minister or his deputy, on the four-point agenda for Ladakh safeguards. We want to convey to the Government of India and the people of the country that we will never shy away from the dialogue," said Ali Karbalai.

Karbalai said the people of Ladakh are "serious and sincere" in their support for the four-point agenda, which also includes separate Lok Sabha seats for Leh and Kargil and a recruitment drive for the local educated youth.

These two organisations are coalitions of socio-religious, political and youth organisations of Leh and Kargil districts and were formed after August 5, 2019, when the Narendra Modi government abrogated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into Union territories of J&K and Ladakh.

They later joined hands and came out with the four-point agenda and held a series of protests in Leh, Kargil, Jammu and Delhi.

The Leh Apex Body (LAB) had two separate meetings with the Union home minister Amit Shah, while KDA had one meeting last year but later decided to stay away from a high-powered committee constituted by the home ministry on the pretext that the government had completely ignored the four-point agenda and also paid no heed to their suggestion about the composition of the panel.

Support to Sonam Wangchuk's fast

Karbalai said the meeting also extended its support to Wangchuk's proposed fast.

"Earlier Wangchuk had a five-day protest fast in January and now he is holding a 10-day-long fast from May 26 in support of the four-point agenda. Both KDA and LAB stand with him,” he said.

He said the meeting also discussed the recruitment of educated youth and called for making Ladakh residence certificate compulsory for all kinds of jobs, whether gazetted or non-gazetted posts, in the Union territory.

(With PTI inputs)