KARGIL: It is anticipated that the Central Government will engage in further discussions with representatives from Ladakh. These discussions are expected to take place after the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Kargil elections have concluded. There are indications that some of the demands put forth by the Leh Apex Body (LAB) and the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) may find favor with the Government.
The previous round of talks between the Union Home Ministry and the leadership of LAB and KDA occurred on June 19 in New Delhi, following a 22-month gap. During that meeting, it was decided that the next round of talks would be scheduled after finalizing the agenda.
However, from July 11 to August 25, Ladakh’s leadership was preoccupied with the visit of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Currently, elections for the LAHDC Kargil are scheduled for September 10, with counting to follow on the 14 September.
According to media reports, some representatives from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) remained in contact with a senior LAB leader, but a meeting could not be arranged due to the busy schedule of LAB leadership and other leaders during the Dalai Lama’s visit. Sources suggest that there is consensus on scheduling a meeting either by the end of this month or early next month.
This meeting is anticipated to be productive, as the Government of India generally holds a positive stance on Ladakh’s issues, except for certain demands to which it is opposed.
The LAB and KDA have a four-point agenda, which includes the grant of Sixth Schedule status and Statehood for Ladakh, allocation of two Lok Sabha seats (one each for Leh and Kargil), and job opportunities for local residents.
They have also requested the establishment of a Public Service Commission (PSC) for Ladakh. Alternatively, if a separate PSC cannot be formed, they propose that Ladakh be included in the PSC of Jammu and Kashmir, similar to the structure of the Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court. Additionally, they emphasize that the Ladakh Resident Certificate (LRC) should be mandatory for all recruitment processes. However, the Central Government has ruled out the possibility of granting Statehood to Ladakh.
Sources indicate that LAB and KDA leaders are confident that the Central Government, particularly the Union Home Ministry led by Amit Shah, which has been handling Ladakh’s issues through Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, will take a favorable view of these issues. In the last meeting held in New Delhi on June 19, Union MoS Home Nityanand Rai and senior MHA officials listened to the concerns raised by LAB and KDA and assured them that discussions would continue.(VoL)