Demanding Union Territory status with legislative power to Ladakh region, a massive protest rally was held by Ladakh Buddhist Association this Saturday.
Starting from Chowkhang Vihara, the rally traversed from main bazaar and terminated at Polo Ground. The rally comprised thousands of people, including village representatives, government employees, women’s groups, Monks, Numberdars and locals from all five regions of Ladakh.
Demonstrating their displeasure over the repetitive discrimination for people of Ladakh by Kashmir Government over the period, people raised slogans, held placards and banners, while the huge crowd peacefully proceeded to the Polo Ground.
Several speakers, including president of LBA Tsewang Thinles, vice President P T Kunzang, LBA women’s wing general secretary and LBA Youth vice president Konchok Stak were present at Polo Ground to address the gathering.
Some other demands and issues that were emphasized were reservation in promotion and regularization of contractual employees of PDD, PWD, Police and other government departments. Regularization of Airfare, tourism, LPG subsidy and suffering of Ladakh people due to favoritism in distribution of state land, appointment of Patwaris based on religious communities, developmental initiatives due to constant disturbance by cause of militancy in Kashmir, etc. were some other concerns pointed out. Another prominent appeal was that of subsidy to Buddhist pilgrimage during religious tour equivalent to that given to Muslims for Haj pilgrimage.
A memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister was submitted by the LBA members in which granting UT status to Ladakh and action on other key issues faced by the people were demanded.
In his speech, LBA President Tsewang Thinles said that the demand for UT from Ladakhis was not a new one. It is being raised since the time of independence and was also conveyed during Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Leh last year. He also expressed that the present Hill Council status of Ladakh was a handicap since there is no autonomy.
Thinles urged that the Central Government should take Ladakhis into confidence while making decisions on the Kashmir issue. He also called the government’s attention to some groups with vested interests who have been trying to hamper communal harmony in the region.
Vice president P T Kunzang asserted that the LBA does not oppose any non-local doing business in Ladakh, however, arrival of Kashmiris in large numbers when the situation in the valley is not suitable needs to be checked.