The Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), an amalgam of different political and religious parties based in Ladakh’s Kargil region, reiterated that it doesn’t recognize the Union Territory status of Ladakh. The KDA has demanded complete statehood for Ladakh and the Alliance has accused the BJP government of disempowering the people of the region by taking away legislative and governing powers from them. Hitting out at the Centre’s move of making Ladakh a Union Territory last year, the KDA alleged that the government has imposed autocracy in the region.
However, the Alliance has also stated that by demanding statehood for Ladakh it hasn’t shifted away from its demand of seeking the restoration of Article 370 and Article 35 A. The Alliance has said that the demand for restoring Article 370 is currently being heard by the Supreme Court, and added that if the court decides to restore Article 370 and unify J&K and Ladakh then, the Alliance would be satisfied.
However, the KDA has said that it will not accept the Centre’s proposal of extending the provisions of the Sixth Schedule to Ladakh and added that statehood for the region is far better than extending the Sixth Schedule.
The co-chairmen of the Alliance, Qamar Ali Akhoon and Asgar Ali Karbalai, have claimed that their demands are in line with national interest. “If other smaller Union Territories have been alleviated to statehood, Ladakh has a stronger case for separate full statehood," Karbalai said. “Even demands of restorations of Article 370 and Article 35A are in sync with the Constitution of the country as these two provisions were part of the Constitution of India,” Akhoon added.
Karbali said after the abrogation of Article 370 the BJP Leh unit expressed happiness but within nine months, the local party unit realised its mistake. “The members of the BJP-led Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), were seen protesting outside Lt. Governor’s house for three hours. Thus, within nine months the people of Leh also realised that the Union Territory for Ladakh cannot be a solution and then they demanded the extension of Sixth Schedule to the region,” Karbalai said.
He also claimed that if the government is really serious about addressing the concerns of people of Ladakh, then the region should be granted full statehood. “Even in Sixth Schedule, powers are with the Lt Governor and it won’t resolve our issues. Under the Sixth Schedule, the Lt Governor has enormous powers, including powers to include and exclude some regions and block them from the purview of the Sixth Schedule,” Karbalai said.
“That is why we demand full separate statehood for Ladakh, including legislative powers and the provision of a chief minister. Statehood will mitigate our fears as we will have powers to legislate,” Karbalai added.