Under the auspices of the Laddakh Buddhists Association (LBA) a massive rally was taken out in Leh on Saturday to demand Union Territory Status (UT) with legislative powers for the Laddakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.
The rally commenced from Chowkhang Vihara and after passing through main bazaar culminated at the Polo Ground. It was attended by thousands people across Ladakh including Nambardars, village representatives, monks from different monasteries, government employees, various women’s groups and people from villages of all the five regions of Ladakh including Sham, Changthang, Nubra, Zanskar and Leh.
They gathered there to express their resentment and anguish over the repeated discrimination meted out to the people of Laddakh by the successive Kashmir governments. Thousands of people holding banners and displaying placards raising slogans “We want UT, Free Ladakh from Kashmir” peacefully marched towards the Polo Ground.
Speakers who addressed the large gathering included President LBA Tsewang Thinles, Vice President P.T. Kunzang, LBA Youth Vice President Konchok Stak, LBA Women Wing General Secretary Dolma Tsering who expressed high resentment on serious issue of discrimination and inequity by successive Kashmir Governments for the last so many decades.
Granting of Union Territory status with legislature was the main demand and other demands included reservation in promotion, regularisation of contractual employees of PDD, Police departments, PWD and other departments, discrimination and unjust recruitment policy of the government, favouritism and partiality in distribution of state land, unjustified introduction of Food Security Bill in the District, regularization of Airfare, LPG Subsidy, religious community based appointment of Patwaris, insecurity of the lives of the population and overall impact on the entire scenario of unremitting suffering on all fronts including children’s education, tourism and all developmental initiatives due to incessant disturbance in Kashmir due to militancy.
The LBA members condemned the very negative attitude of the Kashmir government and later submitted a memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister of India demanding granting of Union Territory status with legislature and demanding action by the state government on issues stated above.
Ladakh Buddhist Association President Tsewang Thinles in his speech said that UT demand is not new but Ladakhis have been raising the demands since 1947. He said that Hill Council granted to Ladakh is actually a Handicapped without any autonomy and appeals Centre Government to take Ladakhi into confidence while deciding anything about Kashmir issue.
He said that all religious leaders unanimously demand UT in single voice during Home Ministry Rajnath Singh visit to Leh last year. Lambasting on Deputy Commissioner Leh for undermining the Hill Council dignity thereby not attending the General Council meeting on time which resulted in 20 minutes delay start in the General Council meeting due to late arrival of DC Thinles said that DC is here to serve the people not to insult the Hill Council dignity. He also mentioned about DC allotting hundreds of kanals land to Army without the knowledge of Hill Council thereby ignoring the Council power.
He also blamed the SSP Leh for taking leniency in the Poaching case which arise suspicious of corruption. He said that in spite of poaching case taking place in daylight Police failed to nab the culprit and such attitude of SSP brings conspiracy in the public mind.
Thinles warned that few vested interest element trying to harm the communal harmony by trying to create rift between different communities. He also said that some people trying to malign the image of patriotic Ladakhis thereby trying to projecting themselves as faithful and loyalist.
He said that all wars fought on the soil of Ladakh were won by Army with the help of locals and none can question of patriotism of Ladakhi who always remained faithful to the Nation and will always remain, said Thinles. He added that Ladakhi won’t tolerate any discriminate anymore. He also demands subsidy to Buddhist pilgrimage during religious tour at pat Haj pilgrimage to Muslims community.
Vice President PT Kunzang said that poaching case taken in broad daylight but police failed to nab the culprit rather one eye witness in the case was pressured to commit suicide. Youth Vice President Konchok Stak said that Ladakhi don’t requires any certificate for our patriotic feelings towards the National and Ladakhi have been rendering logistics and moral support to the Indian Army.
He mentioned about State Government discrimination towards Ladakhi employees thereby not regularizing employees in various departments such as PDD, DDK and other government office working on meagre salary without any future. He also alerted the administration and reminded about the AK-47 riffles recovery in Turtuk village in the past.
The Merchants’ Association kept their shutters down in support of the demands of the LBA.