"Fingers crossed" as Ladakh's High Powered Committee Holds First Meeting with MHA.
Image Courtesy: PTI
Srinagar: The High-Powered Committee (HPC), which constitutes key representatives from the Leh Apex Body (LAB) and the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), held its first meeting with the officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday, the members said.
The meeting of the delegation with the officials of the ministry began at about 12 pm and continued until 1:40 pm in New Delhi, following which the members expressed optimism over the deliberations.
“The delegation put forth its four-point agenda in front of the ministry. They have said that the government will come up with its proposal in the next meeting, which we have said should take place as soon as possible. Our fingers are crossed,” said Chhering Dorje Lakrook, the vice president of the Ladakh Buddhist Association.
The two groups were formed by the people of Ladakh in the two divisions of Leh and Kargil after the Himalayan region was carved from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir as a union territory in August 2019. Many in Leh, after initial jubilation over the abrogation of Article 370 rued over the decision and subsequently launched a mass movement seeking constitutional safeguards.
Both KDA and LAB are conglomerates of various social, religious and political bodies that are at the forefront of the people’s movement seeking rights from the central government for the region.
“The minister for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai, on behalf of the government, assured us of scheduling the next meeting soon and requested written representations. We hope that the government would positively respond to the concerns of the people of Ladakh,” political activist Sajjad Kargili, who also attended the meeting, told NewsClick.
The groups have been demanding separate statehood for Ladakh, constitutional safeguards on the lines of the Sixth Schedule (which grants autonomy to tribal communities), formation of a Public Service Commission, reservation of jobs for Ladakhis and the creation of two separate parliamentary constituencies for Leh and Kargil.
In the absence of the rights guaranteed under Article 370 and 35 A, concerns amongst the locals grew over the status of land and jobs and also over the fragile ecosystem of the mountain region that the locals believe faces exploitation in the absence of such rights. The LAB and KDA had since planned a year-long protest to press for their demands.
The previous round of talks was held earlier in June and was seen as a breakthrough after the two sides faced initial hiccups over the constitution of the high-powered committee. The groups have held protests outside Ladakh as well, including in Srinagar, Jammu and New Delhi.
The People’s Movement for the Sixth Schedule for Ladakh also raised fresh concerns over a new industrial policy from the regional administration, claiming that it had been framed without the consent of the local stakeholders and bypassed the local autonomous hill councils.
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