Tuesday, April 23, 2024

‘Refused to engage with us’: says Ladakh delegation as fourth meeting with home ministry failed

After the fourth round of talks with the union government, Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance stated that the meeting produced no “concrete” results.

A delegation from the two socio-political bodies from the Ladakh region met the union government representatives on Monday.

After the meeting, they also had a brief interaction with Home Minister Amit Shah at his residence in New Delhi.

Notably, this is the first conversation of the Home Minister with Ladakh groups since 2020.

The ministry has been reluctant to address the manor issues including statehood and other special provisions under the Sixth Schedule for Ladakh.

“First, the ministry officials and then the Home Minister, have refused to engage with us on the matter,” one of the representatives told the Indian Express.

However, the ministry claimed that Shah has assured the delegation that the official committee formed by the government will look into the modalities of meeting the demands of the people.

“Home minister expressed that the consultative mechanism established through this High Powered Committee should continue to engage on issues such as measures to protect the region’s unique culture and language, protection of land and employment, inclusive development and employment generation, empowerment of LAHDCs and examine constitutional safeguards for positive outcomes,” a Home Ministry statement said.

At the same time, Shah resorted to the usual rhetoric that the problem would be resolved under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “which is committed to providing necessary constitutional safeguards to the Union Territory of Ladakh.”

With this meeting, the talks with the Centre will remain suspended as the Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance will decide the future course of action in the meantime.

Thousands of protesters rallied in the Leh and Kargil districts of Ladakh over the first week of February, in response to a shutdown call against the constitutional changes brought about by the reading down of Article 370.

The complete shutdown in the region was called by the Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), two influential groups who are spearheading an agitation to demand special rights for the people of Ladakh after the region was separated from Jammu and Kashmir.

The two groups have been demanding the restoration of statehood for Ladakh, which was degraded into a Union territory without a legislature in 2019.

Additionally, they seek tribal status for Ladakh, with its inclusion in the constitution’s Sixth Schedule, job reservation for locals and a parliamentary seat each for the Leh and Kargil districts.

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