A year after the formation of the union territory, a growing sense of unease is palpable among the residents of Ladakh. On July 24, Ladakh observed a shutdown over the exclusion of Ladakhi candidates from the newly advertised J&K Bank recruitments. Earlier, when Ladakh was a part of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, the bank jobs were reserved for the people from three divisions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
Student activist Jigmet Paljor, while speaking to NewsClick, explained that around 1,000 candidates from Ladakh had appeared in the 2018-19 recruitment drive, which was later scrapped and for the new recruitment process, all applicants including those who had appeared before, were rendered ineligible. “There was a note that residents of UT Ladakh who had applied in 2018 will be notified separately, but there has been no notification so far,” said Paljor.
NewsClick had earlier reported about the administration’s decision to scrap the ongoing J&K Bank recruitment drive owing to the legal infirmities.
A day after the shutdown, J&K Bank Chairman and Managing Editor (CMD) RK Chibber was quoted by a local media outlet as saying, “The bank shall soon initiate a recruitment drive for filling the posts of Probationary Officer (PO) and Banking Associate (BA) in Leh and Kargil.”
“Yes, we are aware of the statement through the media itself, as we have not received any official confirmation yet. We don’t know how this new recruitment drive will pan out. We have been not given any brief. We have also filed a petition in the High Court to put the current recruitment process on hold.” said Stazin Tsetan, advisor, Students’ Organisation of Unified Ladakh.
In Kargil’s Zanskar district, a two-day shutdown was observed, starting from July 27, over the pending results of recruitment drive by Divisional Staff Recruitment Board (DSSRB). The students in Kargil lamented that they have been awaiting the results for the last 10 months. “We have been approaching the authorities for the last 10 months, but every time, they come up with one reason or another. This time, we won’t listen to them. Our future is at stake,” said Ali Murtaza, student representative, All India Kargil Student Union.
Last year in October, former J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik had said that the UT status given to Ladakh will be the harbinger of employment and development. “Union Territory (UT) status for Ladakh will open new doors for employment and development in the region,” Malik had said at the inauguration of the annual Ladakh Festival in 2019.
On the contrary, the students and activists have claimed that not even a single job advertisement has been released officially in the last one year. “Leave jobs, the administration has not even framed a job policy for Ladakh. Can you believe that? What kind of job creation is this? We want the governor and the administration to acknowledge our plight,” Paljor told NewsClick.
Rinchen Angimo, a representative of the Unemployed Engineers’ Association in Ladakh, says that unavailability of a recruitment board is hurting the young populace. “There are over 600 unemployed engineers in Ladakh and with no recruitment board in place, private firms are being involved to outsource manpower on a contractual basis. There is no job security and no new jobs.”
One year down the line, after the formation of union territory, Rinchen says that the situation remains unchanged for Ladakhis. “Since 2014, even when we were under the J&K government, there was no vacancy. The situation remains the same. The unemployment rates in Ladakh are alarming and the administration needs to act quickly.”
Demand for Domicile
Rinchen explains that the situation has been unfair to Ladakh. “It is so unfair for the people here because both the UTs, Ladakh and J&K, were formed together. As for J&K, they have a domicile law and a recruitment policy, but Ladakh has none of these.”
There has been a growing demand for constitutional safeguards to ensure the protection of land, jobs, environment and culture in Ladakh. Earlier, the people of Leh had urged the Centre to include the UT under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, but there was no response. One year after the formation of the UT, residents say that the Centre has neglected them.
“The need of the hour is to bring in a new policy to safeguard the interests of Ladakhis. They should give us the domicile law for the time being at least. If the issues are not fixed, the situation in Ladakh will become worse than before,” said an activist.
Chering Dorjey Lakruk, the former minister of the erstwhile state of J&K, who recently resigned from the post of president of the BJP unit in Ladakh in May says that the “concerns of the people are justified as Hill councils are not allowed to function in the UT”.
“The situation is very obscure both in Kargil and Leh. The councils in Ladakh are not allowed to function as per the law. The UT administration is interfering in their work. This is the new system now. Everything is controlled by the UT administration and they are bypassing the councils. That is the main problem,” said Lakruk.