MHA invites Ladakh bodies for discussion

SRINAGAR: The Ministry of Home Affairs has invited leaders of a high-powered committee from Ladakh for a second round of talks on February 19 to deliberate on their demands, including statehood and implementation of Sixth Schedule for the newly formed Union territory.

The invite from the MHA came a day ahead of the bandh call – Kargil and Leh Chalo march – on February 3, called by the Apex Body Leh (ABL) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), an amalgam of political, religious and social organisations in Ladakh. “Hope the meeting will be positive and productive,” said Sajjad Kargili, a member of ABL. He added, “There is no change in the already announced programme on February 3.”

The ABL and KDA were formed in Leh and Kargil after 2019 when Ladakh was carved out as a separate Union territory from J&K to strive for the rights of the people across the region. The two bodies joined hands to press for their demands and their representatives held the first round of talks with Union minister of state for home affairs Nityanand Rai on December 4, 2023. After the meeting, they submitted a draft of demands to the MHA in January this year, seeking statehood, Sixth Schedule for the UT, a separate Public Service Commission and two seats in the Lok Sabha and one seat in the Rajya Sabha for Ladakh, when legislative assembly is granted to the region.

The representatives from Ladakh have urged people in Kargil to observe a strike on February 3 and called for ‘Leh Chalo’ march, where a huge gathering is expected to be addressed by the prominent members from both the organisations. Prominent innovator and educationist from Ladakh Sonam Wangchuk and other religious and political leaders are expected to attend the meeting in Leh.

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Harry Byrne

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