January 2008 News

Ladakhis Allege Persecution

6 January 2008
Statesman News Service

Jammu: After a 10-day wait, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad today agreed to meet a delegation of elected representatives of Ladakh belonging to the Ladakh Union Territory Front. Tension is palpable in Ladakh as its leaders have accused the Congress government of “ignoring their woes'. The Ladakhi leaders, however, aren't attaching too much hopes to the meeting with Mr Azad. The LUTF leaders, including the lone MP Mr Thupstan Chewang and the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh chairman Mr Chering Dorje and his councillors have been camping in the winter capital of Jammu for the past 10 days. Having met the Prime Minister and Union home minister in Delhi, the LUTF leaders wanted to apprise the chief minister of the deteriorating situation vis-à-vis relations with the district administration in Leh. They were denied an appointment despite Mr Mangat Ram Sharma, former deputy chief minister, taking up their case with Mr Azad, whom they met this morning. Relations have deteriorated between the Congress and the LUTF in the past year. Allegations are the Congress is harassing the LUTF and using its might to keep them in check. “As long as the People's Democratic Party was at the helm of the ruling coalition, the state government showed an attitude of accommodation and conciliation towards us. But the moment the Congress took over the reins, the administration turned not only hostile but also violent,” said Mr Chewang, who is also president of the LUTF. He said the LUTF was for long a part of the Congress and its leaders were driven out by a miniscule section that kept the Congress central leadership in the dark about ground realities. “We have constantly been in favour of Union Territory status for Ladakh, which remains our goal and shall remain so until we achieve it. We have always articulated our aspirations within the Constitution of the country. Our selfless record in defending the borders of our great nation in a sensitive region speaks for itself. Yet, we are being treated by the Congress-led state government as if we are second-class citizens,” the MP said. The police in Leh, at the behest of Congress leaders, alleged the MP, filed criminal charges against Ladakh Buddhist Association office-bearers and members accusing them of, among other things, murder and attempt to murder. Mr Tsering Dorje, chief executive councillor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh said anywhere else in the country or the world, the forcible closure of the office of a leading social and religious organisation, which the LBA is, would have immediately invited government leaders' intervention. Mr Dorje alleged the police is acting as a tool of the state government, instead of performing its prescribed role. The LUTF delegation today urged the chief minister to remove senior superintendent of police, Mr Alok Kumar.

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