The removal of special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and the bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two union territories has not gone down well in Kargil. The region has already observed a two-day shutdown against the abrogation of Article 370. The bandh call was given by Joint Action Committee (JAC) which is an amalgamation of religious and political bodies as well as key stakeholders of Kargil district.
The two districts in Ladakh – Buddhist dominated Leh and Shia Muslim dominated Kargil – have not been in good terms with each other. Among all the other demands, Kargil and sub division Drass have maintained one unique demand – they want to stay with Jammu and Kashmir and not Leh and they have a reason to it – the demographic and geographic character of the region.
Speaking to NewsClick, prominent activist Sajjad Hussain said, “The people of Kargil are not openly saying that they want to be with Kashmir but they have openly rejected the bifurcation of the state. The sentiment to be with Kashmir is already there. Drass, which is a sub division, has openly opposed the bifurcation and said that they want to be with Kashmir.”
Hussain says, the resentment has to do with the cultural ties and geographical character of the region. “Drass to Leh is 300 kilo metres, whereas, Drass to Srinagar is only 150 km. Humare cultural ties hai, administrative ties hai aur logon ke ghar hai wahan. Kuch kaam hota hai toh Srinagar jaate hai kyuke nazdeek padta hai (We have cultural and administrative ties with the region. Some of our relatives stay there. Whenever we need to get anything done, we go to Srinagar as it is closer). In totality, Kargil has rejected the Centre’s decision and has termed it undemocratic.”
Yesterday, a delegation of Drass Coordination committee met the Chief Secretary of the state, B R Sharma and demanded that they want to stay with Jammu and Kashmir rather than Ladakh. “In discussion with the delegation, we gave two options – either allow us to be with Jammu and Kashmir or give separate UT status to Kargil. The delegation also had a BJP leader from Kargil in it.” Leh for long has fought forUT status for Ladakh with legislation whereas Kargil has always rejected this idea.
“Its not that we are speaking for the first time. We have always maintained that we don’t want to be termed as UT. Leh wanted it, not Kargil and Leh doesn’t represent the entire Ladakh. So, to say Ladakh is celebrating is a lie. Kargil is not celebrating,” Hussain said.