District administration Kargil issuing a circular asking government officers and their subordinates to wear "Ladakhi Guncha" in the offices has snowballed into a major controversy.
Guncha is a cultural dress of Ladakhis. However, the other cultural and ethnic identities have reacted sharply to the circular stating that move is aimed at imposing culture of one particular community on others.
The Chairman Legislative Council Haji Anayat Ali has welcomed the move and appreciated the circular issued by Deputy Commissioner Kargil. Anayat Ali told All India Radio that it's an attempt on his part to showcase the tradition and cultural identity of Ladakh to the whole world. He also appreciated the efforts of LAHDC Kargil and Leh and both the district administrations for adopting and deciding to wear Ladakhi Guncha on a specific day every week during office hours. "It would help in reviving our culture in the region."
The Deputy Commissioner Kargil Haji Gulzar Hussain said the decision to ask the officers and their subordinates to wear Guncha was taken by the entire district administration during a function on New Year eve. "It would help us to preserve and respect our culture. To save the identity and culture of Ladakh we should wear Guncha during office hours," he added.
The Deputy Commissioner said that wearing Guncha is not mandatory for Non Local Officers. "If they do so it would be highly appreciated," Hussain said.
He said on national days like Republic and Independence Day it would be mandatory for all the officials to wear local Guncha and district officers would attend public meetings in local dress only.
The chairman Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust (IKMT) Kargil Shiekh Muhammad Hussain said, "Although it is a good initiative but no one should be compelled to follow the orders."
"If the administration is really interested to save the culture and costume then it should also give some relaxation in terms of funds and subsidy for the employees," he added.
Haji Shafi advisor to CEC and counselor Drass said that the dress should not be mandatory. "There are many cultural ethnic identities and everybody should given right to wear their own cultural dress" he added. "I will meet DC sahib and will discuss this issue with him."
A teacher in Government Middle School Latoo said, "We don't even get our basic salary on time. For past three months we have not received a single penny. How can we buy a Guncha with our pockets empty."
Mukhtar Zahid Budogami, a prominent Sheena writer, said, "Indeed it is a good step but he (Deputy Commissioner) should think about other cultural identities especially the Dard Sheen, Baltis, Kashmiris and Sikhs of the district."
"If administration has no problem to accept Ladakhi Guncha as the cultural dress then what's the problem to accept the Ladakhi script as well. We will meet Deputy Commissioner Kargil soon in this regard. It's a serious issue as other minority ethnic communities have been out rightly deprived of their rights. It seems administration is not serious to preserve their cultural identities," the prominent writer added.
Sadiq Hardassi a prominent Balti historian said, "The district administration should call a meeting again and should ensure that sentiments of other ethnic communities are not hurt."
"We can't decide for somebody what to wear and what not to wear in a democratic setup as it is a matter of choice," he said. "Our culture is not confined to wearing Guncha only. There are other things also which have been the part and parcel of our culture and our identity. We need to safeguard these traditions also," said Sadiq.