Students protesting at Leh in support of their demand for a University in Ladakh. -Excelsior/Marup Stanzin
NEW DELHI: Following a series of protests in Jammu and a shutdown in Ladakh, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has considered a long-cherished dream of Ladakhi students. On December 15, the State Administration Council under the chairmanship of Governor Satya Pal Malik approved the proposal to establish the first-ever university in Ladakh. As per the official spokesperson, “It will be a cluster university covering five colleges of Leh and Kargil districts. The university will be established with an initial grant of Rs 65 crore to be provided in the next fiscal year. Establishment of the university will fulfil a long-standing demand of the people of the districts.”
Ladakhi students have welcomed the decision. Speaking with NewsClick, Stanzin from All Students’ Ladakh Association, said, “We are really happy that the cluster university will be established in Leh. It was our long-cherished dream.”
However, discontent is brewing among students from Kargil. The Ladakh region comprises two districts of Kargil and Leh. Students from Kargil are demanding a separate university in their district too. A student from Kargil said, “Having a separate university was the most basic and urgent demand. We are thankful for the university in Leh. But we also demand a university in Kargil.”
As per data, the average literacy rate in Kargil is 71.34%, including 56.30% female literacy rate and 83.15% male literacy rate. Similarly, Leh has a literacy rate of 77.20%, wherein female literacy rate is 63.65%, as compared to male literacy rate of 86.31%. For a long time, the people of Ladakh, especially students, felt that they had been “neglected” by the state. Recently, students from Kargil and Ladakh had gathered in large numbers on the Tawi bridge in Jammu followed by a call of shutdown in Ladakh. The students had put forth their discontentment over the “biased” conduct of the state.
“We belong to a dilapidated education system. There are four colleges in the entire Ladakh region – two in each district. The students studying in these colleges are facing grave problems because of the irregularities in the working of the Kashmir university. Our exams are never conducted on time. Results are delayed by one-two years. An undergraduate degree which should be completed in three years, takes five years. Don’t you think this is reason enough to compel students to study outside Ladakh?” Shakil Ahmad Zaki, President of the All Ladakh Students’ Welfare Association, Jammu, had asked recently.
Also Read: Ladakhi Students Demand Separate University, Allege Discrimination
As per the 2011 Census, Kashmir consists of 11 districts with 70 lakh people, followed by Jammu with population of 53 lakh and Ladakh with a population of almost 2.7 lakh. Despite Ladakh occupying 58.33% area of the entire Jammu and Kashmir state, the region had no university until now.
“Granting the setting up of a university is the biggest gift to Ladakh. It was a very old demand of the people of Ladakh. We had a campus of Kashmir University, but it was mostly defunct,” DNA quoted Gyal P Wangyal of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh, as saying.