Jammu: The decision to grant Union Territory (UT) status to Ladakh has brought to the fore the existing divide between the Buddhist-populated Leh and Muslim-dominated Kargil. While Leh is celebrating the decision, Kargil is finding itself at the crossroads. On Thursday, protests erupted in Kargil district of Ladakh, which has been accorded the status of a Union territory without a legislature after the Union government’s decision of scrapping Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir.
As protests broke out, the administration imposed Section 144 in Drass, Sankoo and Kargil, prohibiting a gathering of more than four people in one place. Schools and colleges have also been asked to remain closed until further orders.
Speaking with Newsclick, Sajjad Hussain, a social and political activist from Kargil said: “Tears gas shells were lobbed to quell the protests after which five to six protestors were arrested. They are still behind the bars. The general public is not even being allowed to reach mosques to pray. Life in Kargil has come to a standstill.”
As per Hussain, protestors gathered at Lal Chowk in Kargil protesting against the order. He said, “People have rejected the bifurcation of state. They want to be with Kashmir.” Hussain expressed his disbelief that a few media outlets were spreading a false narrative that the decision has been welcomed by all, claiming that even in Leh, people were confused as they still weren’t clear about the contours of the newly formed UT.
“Few media outlets are saying that Ladakh is celebrating UT status while 85-90% public in Kargil is disappointed with the decision. My request is that don’t mislead people outside. If people of J&K are celebrating, then the crackdown in Kashmir, Jammu and Kargil should be lifted immediately. Journalists should not be harassed for writing news”, he said.
Hussain said, “Ladakh is not Leh, there is Kargil too. How can you miss out an entire district and show that everything is normal.”
Hussain had earlier told Newsclick that “leaders from J&K were not able to connect with us for 6-7 months during the winters when the temperature in the region reaches as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius. How are Delhi leaders now going to connect with the people of Ladakh during such weather conditions?”
Newsclick contacted District Magistrate Baseer Ul Haq who picked up the call but didn’t respond to the question asked.