Home Ministry seeks comprehensive document from LAB, KDA on demands

TNN Bureau. Updated: 12/14/2023 1:39:46 PM Regional News

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked the Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) to draft a comprehensive document on their demands including some options and submit it during next meeting scheduled to be held in New Delhi after ongoing winter session of Parliament even as it has assured that a delegation of the Ministry headed by Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai and comprising Home Secretary AK Bhalla and senior officers would visit Ladakh after the next meeting.

The LAB and KDA will be sitting together shortly to draft the document though work on it has already started with discussions on inclusion of main points. Agenda by and large remains unchanged.

As agenda released by the MHA for December 4 meeting had no mention of discussion on Statehood for Ladakh though the demand was raised by Ladakh representatives, insiders said there was a strong feeling among some of the leaders that the Statehood demand should be replaced by Legislature within the Union Territory as even Jammu and Kashmir hasn’t been granted Statehood so far. Moreover, the Supreme Court while setting deadline for holding Assembly elections in J&K before September 30, 2024 hasn’t given any such timeline for restoration of Statehood.

“In such a scenario, some of the Ladakh representatives are coming around the view that instead of asking for Statehood which the Union Home Ministry is not even ready to discuss, they should ask for Legislature within the UT but continue struggle for Statehood like some of the parties are doing in Jammu and Kashmir,” the insiders said.

However, as far as grant of Sixth Schedule to Ladakh is concerned, the LAB and KDA will stick to it though the Home Ministry in December 4 meeting asked them to explore options other than Sixth Schedule though which land, culture, identity and other rights of Ladakhis can be safeguarded.

When approached for comments, Apex Body Chairman and Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) president Thupstan Chhewang confirmed to the Excelsior that the LAB and KDA have been asked by the Union Home Ministry to come up with comprehensive document on their demands which they will draft and submit during next meeting of the High Powered Committee headed by Nityanand Rai.

The meeting is scheduled to be held after winter session of the Parliament.

Chhewang said they are drafting the document and it will be finalized in joint meeting of the LAB and KDA before the MHA calls next meeting. “We will submit the document at the meeting,” he added.

As per the sources, the Union Home Ministry officials have also assured that MoS Home Nityanand Rai, Home Secretary AK Bhalla and other senior officers of the Ministry will undertake a visit to Leh and Kargil in the Union Territory of Ladakh after the meeting to interact with the people.

Sources said the MHA could make some announcements during its team’s visit to Ladakh including safeguards for land, culture, identity etc though not under Sixth Schedule. However, possibility of Statehood has been ruled out. As far as another demand of the two bodies regarding two Parliamentary seats for Ladakh instead of present one is concerned, it can be done only after 2026 as delimitation of constituencies has been freezed till then. On job opportunities and Public Services Commission (PSC) demand, all such issues are going to be addressed, the sources said.

It may be mentioned here that the BJP is not part of LAB and KDA though its Lok Sabha member from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgayal is member of the High Powered Committee (HPC) headed by Nityanand Rai. CEC-cum-Chairperson Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council Tashi Gyalson is also a BJP leader, who too is part of HPC.

Sources said before Model Code of Conduct for Lok Sabha elections in March next year, some major announcements pertaining to the Union Territory of Ladakh are expected to be made by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

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