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Sub-committee’s first meeting on Saturday; Advisor to represent Ladakh admn, MHA names 2 officials

Centre agrees to discuss Ladakh’s demands, next meet on Feb 24

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Sub-committee formed, ABL-KDA call off hunger strike
LEH: Marking a significant development, the Centre agreed on Monday to discuss threadbare the demands for Ladakh’s statehood, the inclusion of the Union Territory in the 6th Schedule of the Constitution and the setting up of an exclusive public service commission for the high-altitude region.

The agreement was arrived at a meeting held here between the High Powered Committee (HPC) for Ladakh headed by Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai and a 14-member delegation of the Apex Body of Leh (ABL) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), representing various organisations of the Union Territory.

“The meeting decided to discuss threadbare our main demands: statehood for Ladakh, inclusion of Ladakh in the 6th Schedule of the Constitution and the constitution of the exclusive public service commission for Ladakh on February 24,” according to a joint press release issued by the ABL and KDA.

The two organisations from Ladakh also decided to call off “for the time being” their plan to go on a hunger strike from Tuesday “in view of this significant development”.

The meeting resolved to constitute a joint sub-committee for carrying forward the exercise to look into the details of the demands.

“We have, accordingly, set up the sub-committee with the following members: Thupstan Chhewang, Chering Dorjay Lakrook and Nawang Rigzin Jora, representing the ABL, and Qamar Ali Akhoon, Asgar Ali Karbalai and Sajjad Kargili, representing the KDA,” the release said.

The two organisations conveyed the names of the sub-committee members to Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla.

“All members of the sub-committee are in Delhi and we look forward to fruitful discussions at the next meeting,” the release added.

The other demands of the delegation include two Lok Sabha seats (one for Kargil and one for Leh) and job opportunities for the residents of the Union Territory, sources said.

Ladakh currently has one Lok Sabha constituency. Ladakh, which no longer has any Assembly constituency, was earlier part of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

After the meeting, Chief Executive Councillor of LAHDC Kargil Dr Mohd Jaffer Akhoon called on Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai and submitted a memorandum enlisting 21 points including the 4 agenda points of Leh and Kargil in the HPC.

Akhoon was accompanied by his counterpart in Leh, Tashi Gyalson and Member of Parliament from Ladakh, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal.

“Today called upon Hon’ble MoS Home @nityanandraibjp at New Delhi and discussed wide range of issues pertaining to Ladakh particularly of Kargil. Also submitted a memorandum enlisting 21 points including the 4 agenda points of Leh and Kargil in the HPC,” Akhoon wrote on X.

It may be mentioned that the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, were abrogated on August 5, 2019 and the erstwhile state was bifurcated into the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

According to the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, Jammu and Kashmir has been made a Union Territory with a Legislative Assembly and Ladakh a Union Territory without an Assembly.

There were four representatives from Ladakh in the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir Assembly.

The BJP-led Centre assured the delegation from Ladakh in December last year that it was committed to fast-tracking the development of the Union Territory and meeting the aspirations of the people in the region.

The assurance was given at a meeting held with the HPC for Ladakh.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has formed the HPC for Ladakh under Rai’s chairmanship with a mandate to discuss the measures needed to be taken to protect the region’s unique culture and language, taking into consideration its geographical location and strategic importance.

The HPC has also been formed for the protection of land and employment, measures for inclusive development and employment generation in the region, measures related to the empowerment of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils (LAHDCs) of Leh and Kargil and the constitutional safeguards that could be provided to ensure the measures and protection as mentioned above.

Several organisations of Ladakh were demanding a separate Union Territory for the region for decades and the demand was fulfilled on August 5, 2019.

The KDA and the ABL, however, in the recent past protested at different locations, including New Delhi, Jammu and Ladakh, highlighting their key demands.

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