The administration of Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik granted Ladakh region a divisional status on Friday. The newly formed division will include Leh and Kargil district, and will have its official headquarters at Leh.
As per the statement issued by the administration, Ladakh will be the third additional division apart from Jammu and Kashmir, in the state.
Earlier, Ladakh was a part of the Kashmir division. Owing to the extremely cold winters, Ladakh would remain disconnected from the rest of the world for months, as the only entryway to the region remains buried under snow.
According to the statement, people in Ladakh have been demanding a divisional status due to the topographic conditions, unique cultural status and due to the distance from the summer capital of J&K, which is Srinagar.
A divisional commissioner and an inspector general of police for the Ladakh division will be appointed soon. A committee headed by the principal secretary of planning will also be set up to finalise the details of the staffing, posts, responsibilities and location of the offices.
The Hill Development Council will now take charge to handle local governance on a temporary basis.
A number of political analysts of Jammu and Kashmir, while speaking to Newsclick, said that separating Ladakh as a region is a timely attempt to earn more votes, as it would affect the number of votes cast in both the divisions. “Government is creating such examples to win people’s confidence in the name of development,” said an expert.
A student from Ladakh, studying in Kashmir, told Newsclick that such an order reflects that they are trying to use the prevalent problems as leverage. “To some extent, some benefits would trickle down to the people. But doing it before the elections has changed its meaning.”
Soon after the government released the order, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, and vice president of National Conference, Omar Abdullah, said that after the elections of 2019, his government will grant divisional status to Chenab valley and Pir Panchal regions if his party is voted to power in the state.
Omar wrote on Twitter: “After the elections of 2019 should the people of J&K repose faith in @JKNC_ our government will grant division status to Chenab valley & Pir Panchal regions as already laid out in our regional autonomy promise.”
In another tweet, he said, “We will take care of regional & sub-regional aspirations. We won’t adopt the pick & choose the approach of the Governor but will instead take a holistic view & address the wider problems. Our regional autonomy document will be our template.”
Mehbooba Mufti, president, People’s Democratic Party, and former CM, took to Twitter to “welcome” this step. She said, “Creation of a separate administrative division for Leh is a welcome step. However, ignoring Pir Panchal & Chenab valley raises questions about the Centre’s intention. Seems like Guv sb is peddling BJP’s agenda by ignoring other equally deserving regions.”