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May 17, 2024

Ladakh Unites for Statehood Amidst Electoral Division: Buddhist Leader Speaks Out

Amidst the electoral divisions seen in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Ladakh, there remains a steadfast unity regarding the region’s aspirations for statehood and safeguards under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Chering Dorjay Lakruk, president of the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA), expressed this sentiment, highlighting the community’s resolve despite political differences.

The electoral landscape in Ladakh portrays a three-cornered contest, with candidates from Leh representing the BJP and Congress, and an Independent nominee from Kargil potentially holding an advantage. However, Lakruk emphasizes that regardless of electoral outcomes, the demand for statehood and cultural preservation remains a unifying force.

In an interview with PTI, Lakruk underscored the imperative need for safeguards to protect Ladakh’s land and culture, particularly expressing concerns about the encroachment of pasture lands by China, traditionally used by local nomadic tribes for grazing.

The LBA, a significant social and religious organization in Ladakh, has played a pivotal role in advocating for the implementation of the Sixth Schedule, which addresses the administration of tribal areas in certain states of India.

Established in 1933, the LBA has long championed the cause of Ladakh’s separate identity, intensifying its efforts post the abrogation of Article 370. Lakruk revealed that various organizations and individuals rallied together, leading to the formation of the Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), jointly negotiating with the home ministry on key demands.

Despite assurances from the home ministry, Lakruk clarified that there were no concrete offers regarding Article 371-like protections. However, discussions centered on strengthening existing councils and creating advisory bodies to address regional concerns.

With the electoral contest primarily based on regional affiliations, Lakruk acknowledged the potential advantage of the Independent candidate from Kargil. However, he affirmed that regardless of electoral outcomes, Ladakh’s unity on constitutional demands would remain steadfast.

The LBA’s extensive outreach efforts involved educating communities about the significance of the Sixth Schedule, culminating in protests like hunger strikes to garner national attention towards Ladakh’s issues.

Regarding the proposed Pashmina March, aimed at highlighting land encroachments and realities in Ladakh, Lakruk lamented its cancellation by the administration, alleging a motive to conceal inconvenient truths.

Addressing national security concerns, Lakruk emphasized that Ladakh’s aspirations are constitutional and aimed at strengthening the country’s defense by fostering civilian support during wartime.

In conclusion, Lakruk reiterated that Ladakh’s demand for statehood and safeguards under the Sixth Schedule reflects not a quest for “azadi,” but a constitutional right intertwined with national security and cultural preservation.

In essence, Ladakh stands united, transcending electoral divisions, in its pursuit of constitutional recognition and preservation of its rich cultural heritage.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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