Locals in Leh observed a protest for half a day on Thursday to press for their unanimous demand. They have also decided to boycott the upcoming Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council elections scheduled on October 16.
The conglomerate of religious, political and civil society groups in Leh have condemned BJP leader Ashok Koul’s statement, who termed the movement for the extension of Sixth Schedule to Ladakh as “nonsense”.
“We know you are a well-wisher of Ladakh. That is why we thought it appropriate to inform you about the feelings and decisions, in the hope that you will effectively intervene,” read the letter to the prime minister. They also met the Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh Radha Krishna Mathur and handed over a letter to him as well.
In their letter to the PM, they stated that the people in Ladakh have come to realise that the UT has not been given enough to preserve its distinct social, cultural, ethnic, linguistic and environmental heritage.
“Certain reports indicating that the central government is in denial mode, and utterances of responsible people dismissive of our sentiments, have only strengthened our resolve to achieve our goal,” the letter states.
Meanwhile, senior LAHDC councillor of the BJP from Saspol constituency, Tsering Wangdus, has resigned from the primary membership of the party saying that he was systematically sidelined and never consulted during any decision making. “I want to live with dignity and fight for the larger cause of the people of Ladakh,” Wangdus told ET.
The BJP leaders, including national general secretary Ram Madhav, and J&K and Ladakh general secretary Ashok Koul are in Leh to convince people to revert their decision to boycott the elections and file nominations as the election date is nearing. Some locals protested outside the hotel where the BJP leaders were staying.
“This is a struggle for our identity and rights. The BJP leader has used unwarranted words against our movement and it is condemnable. The BJP leaders are now trying to urge people to file nominations,” former BJP parliamentarian and one of the leaders of the movement for the Sixth Schedule, Thupstan Chhewang told ET. The leaders in Leh are now striving to build a broader consensus on the issue after convening meetings with the politicians in Kargil as well.
This unanimous move from the people of Leh has challenged the BJP’s narrative of development in the region in wake of the August 5, 2019 decision, when the region was separated from J&K and declared as a Union Territory without legislature. This internal political upheaval in Leh has come at a time when the BJP government in New Delhi is already engaged in a faceoff with China in eastern Ladakh.