As Jammu and Kashmir ceased to exist as a state on October 31, Kargil, part of the newly formed union territory (UT) of Ladakh, entered its third day of shutdown. For the residents of Kargil, shutdown is their way of protest—to express anger and resentment against the Centre’s decision of disempowering and disintegrating the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
NewsClick spoke to the locals who termed October 31 “Black Day” of mourning. A local from Hardass village, Kargil said, “Today will be marked as the Black Day in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. We have been stripped off of our rights and have been disintegrated from Kashmir. We were not allowed to even mourn the death of our state.”
Kargil saw a huge number of locals coming out on the streets with a black flag. As part of the ongoing shutdown, all the markets remained shut. “This is murder of a democracy. People of Kargil will never support bifurcation of the state and degradation of the entity of their state. We, unequivocally, demand restoration of democracy and statehood of Jammu and Kashmir. I personally don’t see any scope in making it a UT and even those who are cheering right now will realise that this is the darkest time of our history,” social activist Sajjad Hussain told NewsClick.
The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of Kargil, comprising members of all religious and political parties, expressed resentment against the Centre’s decision. Speaking to NewsClick, secretary JAC, Nasir Munshi said, “Kargil never demanded bifurcation and disintegration of the state. We never wanted to be a UT; Leh did. There is a huge difference between the demands and situation of Kargil and Leh. We together make Ladakh. It is clearly an imposition on us. Article 35A, which, the Indian government is calling a barrier, was a source of employment for us. Now that article 35 A has gone, the local business will be affected.”
On August 30, former Governor Satya Pal Malik visited Kargil and assured that he will consider the grievances of the locals and would take an appropriate step to cater to them.
“Governor was a liar. He made promises, but never fulfilled them. Now that he has gone, who will listen to us? We feel stateless and isolated,” Munshi told NewsClick.
The former chairperson of Kargil Hill Development Council Asgar Ali Karbali rejected the government’s decision, calling it “unlawful.” “The decision has been imposed without the consent of the people and we will keep fighting till the Centre hears us out. Hum sadkon pe utarte rahenge aur sarkar ke liye sardard bante rehnge jiss tarah se Gandhi ji bane thay uss zamane mein (We will keep coming out on to the streets and will cause government a headache—the way Gandhi had done in his time),” said Munshi.