Interlocutors Hold Wide Ranging Discussions In Leh9 November 2010
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: The mainstream political parties and religious and social organizations of the Leh district today projected the demand of Union Territory with Legislature status to Ladakh region before the Central Government appointed interlocutors, who started their second visit to the State from the cold desert region today. Soon after their arrival at Leh this morning, two interlocutors-renowned academician Prof Radha Kumar and Central Information Commissioner M M Ansari initiated the process of holding interactions with the wide spectrum of people at Conference Hall of the Deputy Commissioner’s office. Over half a dozen political, social and religious organizations presented their view-point before the interlocutors during nearly 10 hour long separate interactions. Prof Radha Kumar and M M Ansari also visited the Solar Colony at Choglamsar, which bore the maximum brunt of the natural calamity in the month of August, to take stock of the rehabilitation works being executed by the Hindustan Pre-Fab Constructions Limited on the directions of Union Ministry for Housing and Poverty Alleviation. The granting of Union Territory with Legislature status to the Ladakh region while finding solution to the Kashmir imbroglio was the main demand of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh, as well as almost all the main political, religious and social organizations, which were of the saying that only UT would bring an end to discrimination with the region and ensure its overall development. In the full meeting of the Hill Council, its Chairman-cum-Chief Executive Councillor, Rigzin Spalbar told the interlocutors that people of erstwhile Himalayan Kingdom have been demanding status of Union Territory with legislature for several decades. 'Right since the independence of the country, and even before Jammu and Kashmir finally acceded to the Indian Union, Ladakh people have been seeking separation of region from Jammu and Kashmir and pleading with the Government of India to administer Ladakh directly from Centre on the pattern of the North Eastern Frontier Area (NEFA) administration or make it a part of erstwhile Punjab', the CEC said. Over the years, the successive Governments of the State have adopted a policy of discrimination and subversion towards the region with the sole objective of oppressiang its people and marginalizing its historical, ethnic and cultural identity, Mr Spalbar conveyed to the interlocutors, adding 'in the last 60 years of independence, the people of Ladakh have not only suffered rampant Kashmiri political domination but also severe drive of separatism'. Stating that Ladakh has nothing in common linguistically, culturally, historically and geographically with other parts of State, he said that despite the fact that Ladakh constitutes two-third of the entire Jammu and Kashmir, very minimal representation has been given to Leh and Kargil districts in the 87-member State Assembly. 'It is absolutely erroneous to equate Kashmir valley with rest of the State particularly Ladakh. The leaders of Kashmir valley can never be leaders of our people and our assimilation with the people of Valley is next to impossible', he said and stressed that to tackle all the problems relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh in totality. He cautioned that any attempt at handling the Kashmir issue by ignoring the aspirations of the people of Ladakh would not only be shortsighted but also counterproductive. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) delegation led by former Member Parliament, Thupstan Chhewang informed the interlocutors that despite reports about discrimination with Ladakh region by various Commissions, no step has so far been initiated to provide justice to the region. 'We hope that while finding solution to Kashmir issue, Ladakh would be separated from Jammu and Kashmir and given UT with legislature status, which is the only way to bring an end to several decades long discrimination', he said. Mr Chhewang also demanded more Lok Sabha and MLA seats for the region in order to provide better representation to the region till the main demand of UT is conceded. Inclusion of Bodhi language in the 8th schedule of Indian Constitution and opening of Kailash Mansarovar route from Ladakh were the other demands projected by the BJP. Alleging bungling in the recent elections to the LAHDC, the BJP demanded that a separate election commission be appointed in the State and all the future elections to the Hill Council be held under its supervision and control. Congress delegation comprising former Union Minister, P Namgial, working president of DCC, Advocate Mohd Shafi, MLC Narboo Gyalson, general secretary, Tsering Nurboo and Mahila wing president Rinchen Dolkar also stressed for granting UT with legislature status to the region while finding solution to the Kashmir issue on the ground that Ladakh has nothing in common with other regions of the State. 'We have conveyed to the interlocutors that Union Government can consider anything within Indian constitution to resolve Kashmir imbroglio but for the Ladakh region only UT with legislature status is the solution to resolve its problems as ours is the deficit region in all sectors', Mr Namgial told EXCELSIOR on telephone from Leh. The Congress delegation also demanded one Lok Sabha seat each for Leh and Kargil districts besides in Rajya Sabha for better representation of the region in both Houses of Parliament, he informed, adding the delegation highlighted in details the allocations being made to the Leh district by the State while regretting that despite tough terrain no special attention was being paid towards the district. Inclusion of Bodhi language in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution and opening of Kailash-Mansarovar route from Ladakh were the other main demands, which the Congress delegation highlighted before the interlocutors. While stressing for granting UT with legislature status to the region, the Ladakh Buddhist Association delegation apprised the interlocutors that successive State Governments have ignored the region in all sectors and deprived it of its due share. 'We have conveyed to the interlocutors that finding solution to only Kashmir issue would not be suffice as Ladakh region has its own problems and same can be redressed once for all only by giving UT status', general secretary of the Association, P T Kunzang said when contacted. 'Ladakhis, who always remained faithful to the Government of India in all the circumstances cannot be ignored while finding solution to Kashmir problem', he said, adding 'this is the only way to protect the distinct culture and history of the region'. While regretting that Ladakhis were ignored during the visit of All Party Parliamentarians delegation to the State, Mr Kunzang said, 'we strongly conveyed to the interlocutors that while holding any dialogue on Kashmir issue in future, Ladakhis should be given due representation'. All Ladakh Gompa Association also raised the demand of UT status and said, 'Ladakh’s everything is different from rest of the State and promotion of its culture and language is not possible with the Kashmiris'. 'While finding solution to vexed Kashmir issue, the problems of other regions including Jammu and Ladakh be resolved once for all', the Association said in a memorandum to the interlocutors. The delegations of People’s Democratic Party, Anjuman-e-Moin-ul-Islam and Women’s Alliance also called on interlocutors and presented their view point.