Tuesday, May 21
Leh Apex Body cancels Border March, Says will continue peaceful agitation

As admin bans rallies in Leh, activists say ‘border march’ not intended to break law

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Leh: With the Ladakh administration imposing prohibitory orders banning rallies on Sunday and a 24-hour reduction in internet speed, the Leh-based Apex Body said it has no intention of violating laws and hoped it will be allowed to carry out its proposed ‘border march’.

The Apex Body, along with the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), is spearheading the agitation to demand statehood for Ladakh and its inclusion in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

The Apex Body announced the ‘border (Pashmina) march’ to Changthang to highlight the condition of grazers, who are allegedly losing prime pasture land to huge industrial plants to the south and Chinese encroachments to the north.

In an apparent move aimed at countering the march, the District Magistrate (DM) of Leh Santosh Sukhadeve on Friday ordered the imposition of CrPC section 144 on April 7 and directed that no procession, rally or march should be taken without his prior approval.

He said the Leh senior superintendent of police has reported that there were reliable inputs indicating a possible breach of peace and public tranquillity in the district.

“No one shall use the vehicle-mounted or other loudspeakers without prior approval from the competent authority. No public gathering without prior approval of the competent authority shall be allowed. No one shall make any statements which have the potential to disturb communal harmony and public tranquillity and which may lead to law-and-order problems in the district,” the DM’s order said.

“All persons shall ensure that they follow the Model Code of Conduct and that all the activities are according to the law,” it added.

In a separate order, Additional Director General of Police of Ladakh S D Singh Jamwal ordered the scaling down of internet speed and mobile data services of 3G, 4G and 5G connections and public 5G Wi-Fi facilities to 2G within a 10-kilometre radius of Leh city from 6 pm on April 6 for 24 hours.

The DM of Leh, in another order, prohibited the posting or sharing such messages that have the potential to disturb communal harmony, peace and tranquillity and may lead to a law-and-order situation in the district.

“It shall be the responsibility of the admins of WhatsApp groups or social media platforms to monitor and filter such content immediately,” the order read.

The Leh Apex Body (LAB) termed the restrictions ahead of its proposed border march an “overreaction” by the administration and said it has no intention of violating the law.

“We have been holding a chain hunger strike for the past 31 days and we feel such a reaction is the result of some misunderstanding,” climate activist Sonam Wangchuk, flanked by LAB leader Chering Dorjay, told reporters here.

Wangchuk, who held a hunger strike for 21 days till March 26, said they strongly believe in peace and peaceful ways to highlight their demands, including those connected with the prevailing condition of the Pashmina grazers.

“If they stop us from marching ahead, it shows the government has something to hide and they do not want the real picture to reach the outside world… we are hopeful that the administration will allow our peaceful march if they have nothing to hide,” he said.

Wangchuk added that a meeting of stakeholders will be held to decide the future course of action within the next couple of days.

Dorjay said they will go ahead with the march and it will be peaceful.

Wangchuk also alleged that the police administration was calling volunteers to the local police stations and threatening them.

“Our request is not to spread unrest in the name of peace. This is a very sensitive region and we always cared for the country,” he added. (PTI)

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