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Ladakhis demand separate legislature and job safeguards

Last Updated on March 19, 2021 at 7:49 pm

Almost one and a half year after Ladakh was made a separate Union Territory, residents of the region have started demanding their own legislature and state subject laws. Leaders of almost every party are unsatisfied with the Centre for not granting special status under Sixth Schedule of the Indian constitution for the UT which would have protected jobs and land for residents.

Ladakhis held discussions last year with the government represented by minister of state for home G Kishan Reddy regarding their demands of Sixth schedule to protect identity, language, culture and resources of the region.

The leaders had earlier announced that they will be boycotting the hill council elections but changed their stance after Centre assured them to look ”sympathetically” into the matter. This forced them to give up on their boycott and participate in the polls. As a result, BJP won majority of seats in the council.

Leaders and civil society had come together last year and formed the People’s Movement for Sixth Schedule demanding special status. An apex committee, which led the movement, held two rounds of talks with the central panel led by Minister Reddy.

There were reports that some of the senior Ladakh’s leaders asked the Centre that if it has problems in granting sixth schedule status to Ladakh, then it should grant state subject laws and legislature according to 30-member Sikkim legislature.

Senior Ladakhi leader Thupston Chhewang also said said that their main demand is to have their own assembly and special rights to protect their land and jobs for youth. Ladakhis have apprehensions that people from other states will purchase their land and snatch their jobs.

A prominent Congress leader told News 18 that other than special provisions, the Ladakhis are also raising demands for their own Public Services Commission similar to J&K in order to recruit gazetted officers from their region. No new employees have been recruited in government offices of Ladakh since bifurcation. This has caused resentment among locals.

Sources say that the apex committee can demand reservations for Ladakh Buddhists and a Sikkim type assembly for UT. One of the members of the committee was quoted as saying that they have a tribal society and they need guarantees against assault on their culture, religion, environment and language.

Third round of talks can soon take place between the committee and Central government.