LADAKH DIVISION: Setting up headquarters at Leh snowballs into controversy

The government’s decision to set up headquarters of the newly created Ladakh division at Leh has snowballed into a major controversy, with all political parties of Kargil district on Saturday announcing to launch a “sustained agitation” to compel the Governor’s administration to review its “biased” decision.
LADAKH DIVISION: Setting up headquarters at Leh snowballs into controversy
Photo: Mir Imran/GK

The government's decision to set up headquarters of the newly created Ladakh division at Leh has snowballed into a major controversy, with all political parties of Kargil district on Saturday announcing to launch a "sustained agitation" to compel the Governor's administration to review its "biased" decision.

Cutting across party lines, the political parties vowed to fight against the Governor administration's "unilateral" decision of establishing headquarters of the Ladakh division at Leh. "It was unanimously decided by all the participants that a mass and sustained agitation and protests would be organized at Kargil, Jammu and New Delhi to highlight the injustice meted out to Kargil while deciding the location of the headquarter," reads a handout issued by the participants after a marathon meeting attended by leaders from the National Conference, the Congress and the PDP.

Interestingly, the representatives of the BharatiyaJanta Party from Kargil were also present in the meeting.

The who's who of Kargil including chief executive councilor, Kargil Hill Council Feroz Ahmad Khan, chairman Legislative Council Hajji Inayat Ali, former MLA Asgar Ali Karbalie and former ministers Qamar Ali Akhoon and Hajji Nisar Ali attended the meeting.

The governor's administration on Friday created a separate division for Ladakh with its headquarters at Buddisht-dominated Leh. The decision to set up headquarters at Leh has come in for criticism from different parties of Kargil, citing 300 kilometer distance between the two places.

The political parties of Kargil had earlier suggested to the Governor Satya Pal Malik to establish headquarters of the division on rotation basis for six months each at Leh and Kargil on the lines of Durbar move between Srinagar and Jammu.

Establishing headquarters at Leh is seen as a "politically motivated move by the people of Kargil to help the BJP in 2019 LokSabha elections."

The BJP which had won the Ladakh Lok Sabha seat in 2014 and Leh Hill Council elections has faced setbacks in the district over the past five months.      

The political leadership of Kargil today said the decision of establishing headquarters at Leh has "hurt the sentiments of the people Kargil who have always been at forefront in guarding borders and nation building".

"It was also observed that the demand for seeking divisional status for Ladakh region had actually emanated from the local leadership of Kargil  during the visit of then interlocutors headed by DilipPadgoankar years ago and since then the leadership of Kargil has been persistently advocating and demanding divisional status for the region," the participants said.

The religious organization of Kargil Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust   alleged that Governor is acting on the directions of the BJP to pave the way for their win in elections.

"We will go to any extent to fight for due share and rights of the people of Ladakh," the organisation said.

Pertinently, Chairman Legislative Council Haji Anayat Ali, CEO of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Feroz Khan and former MLA Haji Asgar Ali Karbalia at a press conference at Jammu threatened to submit resignations en-mass from all democratic institutions and taking roads in Kargil, Jammu and Delhi, in case the demand is not met.

"We are not against the divisional status to Ladakh region comprising both Leh and Kargil districts. We are against posting the divisional commissioner's headquarters along with IGP office permanently at Leh," Khan, a senior National Conference leader, said.

He said the demand for divisional status for Ladakh was first raised by the people of Kargil but the governor administration ignored their request for rotating the divisional commissioner and IGP offices between the two districts for six months each.

"The people of Kargil are united in support of the demand for rotation of headquarters in Kargil during summer and in Leh during winter. If our demand is not met, we will resign en-mass from the posts we are holding in the democratic institutions, whether it is chairman of the legislative council, councilors in the LAHDC or panchayat institutions.

"We will also go for general strike and pour on the roads in the entire district besides Jammu and Delhi till our genuine demand is met," Karbalai, a senior Congress leader said,

He added, "The decision in this regard was taken at a joint meeting of all political parties, including the Congress, the NC, the PDP and the BJP, religious parties and social groups in the district."

Echoing the sentiment, Ali, a PDP leader, said, "The people of Kargil are gentlemen by nature but will not allow anyone to strangle them."

He asked all political parties to support the people of Kargil in their demand for rotational headquarters and equal share in divisional status.

Karbalai said the people of Kargil are nationalist by core and have rendered numerous sacrifices over the past seven decades without caring for "injustice and discrimination" being meted out to them. 

"Majority of the people in Kargil are against the division of the state on the basis of region, religion or language and hence raised the demand for divisional status with economic, financial and legislature powers. We will like to continue to be part of Kashmir division as the distance between Kargil and Kashmir is just 200 kms, while between Kargil and Leh 230 kms," he said.

Khan said, "If you are giving the divisional status to Ladakh, then we will not tolerate injustice with us. But if you are giving it to Leh, we have no objection since almost everything sanctioned for Ladakh is being given to Leh." With inputs from PTI

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