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Ladakh's UT Status Triggers Jubiliation in Leh, Resentment in Kargil

Turning Ladakh into a Union territory without a legislature means the people of the region have been deprived of their Constitutional right to elect their representative.


Updated:August 6, 2019, 7:33 AM IST
Ladakh's UT Status Triggers Jubiliation in Leh, Resentment in Kargil
Indian security personnel patrol a deserted road in Srinagar on Monday. (Reuters)

Jammu: The Centre's decision to bifurcate Ladakh from Jammu and Kashmir and turn the two regions into separate Union territories on Monday triggered scenes of jubilation in Leh and howls of protest in Kargil.

While the move sparked jubilation in Buddhist-dominated Leh town for coming close to the fulfillment of their long-standing demand, the politicians in Muslim-majority Kargil strongly opposed the abrogation of the Article 370 with one of them, a rebel Congress leader, threatening a "massive agitation".

The government revoked Article 370, taking away the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and proposed its bifurcation into two Union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Making the announcement in Rajya Sabha on Monday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the Union territory of Ladakh will have no legislature like Chandigarh while the other one of Jammu and Kashmir will have a unicameral legislature like Delhi and Puducherry.

Cutting across party lines, the prominent politicians from both the BJP and Congress joined Leh residents to welcome the announcement, a long-pending demand of the people of the region.

"Today is a historic day for the people of Ladakh which always faced discrimination and step-motherly treatment from successive governments in the past in funding shares and employment," BJP Lok Sabha member from the constituency Jamyang Tsering Namgyal said.

Expressing happiness over the decision, he said Ladakh is not just a piece of land but a sensitive border area having strategic importance.

Ladakh Buddhist Association president P T Kunzang, former MP Thupstan Chhewang, Congress leader and former MLA Tsering Samphel, MLC Chering Dorjay, Congress district president Tsering Namgyal and BJP president Dorjay Angchuk all joined together in hailing the decision, termed the move as a "historic" one.

In the neighbouring Kargil district, the politicians, however, expressed strong resentment against the move.

"It is a black day not only for Jammu and Kashmir but for the whole country. We are against the division of Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of religion, language and region," Congress rebel leader and former MLA Asgar Ali Karbalai said.

Karbalai, who unsuccessfully fought the last Lok Sabha elections as an independent candidate against official Congress candidate, said the people of Kargil are against the decision and will launch a massive agitation.

"The people of Kargil always voiced their opposition to the demand of UT status for Leh. The government's decision to create a separate UT for Ladakh without legislature is unconstitutional," he said, adding the Indian constitution and the Jammu and Kashmir constitution gave people a right to elect their representatives.

Turning Ladakh into a Union territory without a legislature means the people of the region have been deprived of their Constitutional right to elect their representative.

Sajjad Hussain, who also fought the last Lok Sabha elections unsuccessfully with the joint support of the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, said the people of Kargil want to be a part of Kashmir region.

"Leh was demanding for Ladakh free from Kashmir region over a long time but we are against the revocation of Article 370. Kargil residents are safeguarding the borders of the country and the decision which was taken by the government is against our desire and aspirations," said Hussain.

Hussain appealed to the government to rethink over its decision as "we want to be part of Kashmir".

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