Thursday, Jul 07, 2022

Rahul Gandhi’s Statehood Demand Falls Flat; J&K BJP Says Ladakh Always Wanted Union Territory Status

Gandhi Tuesday gave an adjournment notice in the Lok Sabha for giving statehood and Inclusion of Ladakh in Schedule VI of the Constitution of India.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.(File photo)

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s adjournment notice to Lok Sabha for providing statehood to Ladakh has no takers in J&K BJP. They say it was unnecessary notice.

“For long Ladakh has been demanding a Union Territory status and it has been given to the region. Rahul Gandhi had brought the notice for the sake of it. There was no need of such a notice,” BJP General Secretary for J&K and Ladakh Ashok Koul told Outlook.

“We have already said Ladakh will have safeguards regarding their employment, their unique culture and language. And we believe everyone should get such safeguards. They will also get it. Their (people of Ladakh) demand was Union Territory and it has been fulfilled by Narendra Modi government,” Koul said.

Ram Bhalla, working president of Congress in J&K and Ladakh region said people in the Ladakh region and in Jammu and Kashmir seek statehood. He said Rahul Gandhi had brought the adjournment notice as it was only a few days ago people of Ladakh had observed strike calling for the statehood and other constitutional safeguards.

“Where have you seen in India that a state has been downgraded into UT? Rahul ji has taken up the issue because it is the demand of the people of Leh and Kargil. They have recently observed a strike,” Bhalla said.

Gandhi Tuesday gave an adjournment notice in the Lok Sabha for giving statehood and Inclusion of Ladakh in Schedule VI of the Constitution of India. “I, hereby, give notice of my intention to ask for leave to move a motion for the adjournment of the business of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent importance, named — Statehood and Inclusion of Ladakh in Schedule VI of the Constitution of India.”

“To constitute a committee with stakeholders, including members from the Leh Apex Body and the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), to consider their demands; and to take urgent actions to ensure unhindered access to pasture lands in the border areas that were traditionally accessible,” Gandhi said in his notice.

On December 13, the Union Territory of Ladakh witnessed an unprecedented strike. The strike call was jointly given by the Apex Body of Leh, a conglomerate of various religious and political organisations of Leh, and the Kargil Democratic Alliance, a grouping of religious and political organisations of Kargil. This was the first such strike in Ladakh’s history where both Kargil and Leh were on the same page.

The Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance seek full-fledged statehood for Ladakh, constitutional safeguards on the lines of the Sixth schedule to safeguard demography, environment and unique culture of Ladakh. They also seek two Lok Sabha seats for the region, a Rajya Sabha seat and a filling up of 10,000 to 12,000 vacancies to overcome unemployment in the region.

After the abrogation of Article 370 and Ladakh becoming a separate Union Territory, it was assumed that the Ladakh region got a solution for all its problems. However, the region’s intellectuals and the politicians have been repeatedly raising concern over the demography, land and unique culture of the region and are saying the statehood with legislature would be able to give them necessary safeguards. The region’s politicians initially sought Sixth Schedule but gradually they have scaled the bar and are calling for complete statehood for the region.

On December 14, BJP Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal raised his voice in the Parliament and demanded constitutional safeguard for Ladakh on the line of Sixth Schedule. He sought protection for land, employment, environment and cultural identity of the region.

"MP Ladakh raised a genuine demand in Lok Sabha. Students’ Union, Apex Body, KDA and the entire people of Ladakh have been consistently pursuing this demand for a long time to the Govt of India. I appreciate his concern, and one of the four demands put forward jointly Apex body and KDA has been raised, looking forward to seeing him stand on the other demands,” says Jigmat Paljor, a student activist.