BJP general secretary of Ladakh, Ashok Koul termed the demand of extension of Sixth Schedule of Constitution for Ladakh as “nonsense.” Regional parties in Leh took to the streets to protest his comments.
People’s Movement for Sixth Schedule for Ladakh, an amalgam of different political parties and socio-religious organizations, had announced its decision to boycott the forthcoming polls held by the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) on Tuesday. The group said that it would boycott the polls until the constitutional safeguard under Sixth Schedule on the lines of Bodo Territorial Council is extended to Ladakh. The BJP is a signatory to the poll boycott statement issued by the organisation and yet Koul has termed the demand as “nonsense.”
Addressing a press conference in Leh, former Lok Sabha MP Thupstan Chewang, who is the chairman of the People’s Movement for Sixth Schedule for Ladakh, said Koul should tender an apology to the people of Ladakh for hurting their sentiments. Chewang said the demand of the Sixth Schedule has been signed and supported by the BJP in Ladakh and Koul should have acted responsibly.
Former LAHDC chairman Rigzin Spalbar claimed that Koul had no locus standi over the issue since he is a non-local. “Everyone in Ladakh are for it. The BJP unit in Ladakh also wants it. Koul has no locus standi over the issue. We are not demanding it for Mr. Koul. We are demanding it for ourselves. People of Ladakh are united in this. It is a matter of our future and that of our children,” Spalbar said. Koul was not available for comment. However, BJP’s Kashmir spokesman Altad Thakur claimed that the BJP unit in Ladakh had been blackmailed to give into this demand.
The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution makes separate arrangements for tribal areas. Fearing settlements by outsiders in Ladakh after the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A on August 5 last year, people in the region are seeking tribal status to preserve the existing demography of the region. The People’s Movement for Sixth Schedule for Ladakh was formed to press for this demand.
The poll boycott statement issued by People’s Movement for Sixth Schedule for Ladakh on Tuesday was signed by 12 members of the committee who belong to different parties and socio-religious groups including the Congress, BJP, Ladakh Buddhist Association, All Ladakh Gonpa Association, Anjuman-e-Moin-ul-Islam, Aam Adami Party and others.
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