January 2003 News

Ladakh hill council to continue fight for more powers

2 January 2003
The Hindu
Our Staff Reporter

Jammu: The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Council (LAHDC) Chairman, Thupstan Chewang, has said that the powers delegated to his council by the Jammu and Kashmir Government will help in meeting the aspirations of the people of Ladakh, but still the fight for genuine decentralisation is far from over. The LAHDC Chairman has recently been given Cabinet rank and rules have been laid for the council's functioning. Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Chewang said 'earlier regimes stifled us politically and that is why we demanded a Union Territory for Ladakh. But now that the State Government has at last given us powers, a new hope has arisen among the people of my region that at the end of the day, we will get our due rights promised to us long time back.' Formed in 1994 by an order of the Union Home Ministry during the time of the then Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao, the council has been at loggerheads with the State Government over its rules and regulations for purposes of governance. Just before the Assembly elections, the entire political set-up in Leh was disbanded and two MLAs were elected unopposed on the plank of Union Territory status for Ladakh. Saying that in the ultimate analysis, the integrity of the whole Ladakh region needed to be maintained, Mr. Chewang said, 'Ladakh is composed of Buddhist-dominated Leh and Muslim-dominated Kargil who have the same culture. As the rules and regulations have been laid down by the Mufti Government, a similar pattern will be followed in Kargil by forming a council by June 30. But what we want is that the coordination committee for Leh and Kargil should also be given more powers.' In the original Act, a Ladakh council common to Kargil and Leh was specifically mentioned. 'My priority will be to smoothen the coordination of the working of the two councils,' he said. 'If the Government continues to be accommodative, there will be no need to look towards the Centre for the satisfaction of our regional grievance.' Hoping that a similar pattern would be followed in Jammu region as well, he said, 'The need of the hour is to make sure that nobody feels discriminated which will go a long way in harmonising the relations between the three distinct entities of the State.'


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