Ladakh demands UT status- J & K division only solution

  • By Hari Om
  • 15 December 2009

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On December 8, the  Trans-Himalayan Ladakh region’s premier political organization, Ladakh Union  Territory Front (LUTF), once again reiterated its demand for Union Territory  status for the cold-desert which remains cut off from rest of the world for  several months a year. LUTF organized a massive public rally at the historic  Polo Ground to press its demand.

Reflecting on their  demand, the LUTF leaders said that though they “welcome the ongoing initiative of the Union Government for resolution  of the Kashmir problem”, the people of Ladakh, who have suffered immensely  due to “at least three wars between India  and Pakistan”, will not allow their strategic region to become “a theatre of action with consequent  sufferings for its inhabitants.”

Each one of them  bemoaned what they called the “failure of  the Central and State Governments to engage the LUTF in the ongoing process for  the resolution of Kashmir problem”  and reiterated loudly and unequivocally the “united stand of the people that nothing short of the UT status for  Ladakh will be acceptable as the solution (to) the Kashmir problem.”

LUTF leaders,  including the outfit’s working president Dr Sonam Dawa Lonpo, Chief Executive  Councilor (Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council) Tsering Dorje, LUTF  youth president Namgyal, LUTF women president Thinless Angmo, chief advisor  women LUTF Yangchan Cho Cho, Chuchot Block president Hassan Mohammad, senior  vice-president LUTF Saif-ud-Din and patron president and former MP and  son-in-law of Rani Parvati of Ladakh Thupstan Chhewang, in unison demanded the  “Government of India to keep in focus  this popular demand of Ladakh while exploring a solution”, which is “just, equitable and reflective of the  aspirations of all regions of Jammu and Kashmir.”

What the LUTF  leaders said at the Polo Ground is what the people of Jammu province and the  internally-displaced Kashmiri Hindus and other patriotic forces in the state  believe in and have been demanding for decades. Thus, there is a broad  consensus among the people of Jammu and Ladakh and a number of religious and  ethnic minorities in the State, that only that solution would be acceptable to  them that is just and secular and integrates them fully into India. To be more  precise, these categories of people, who constitute more than 78 percent of the  State’s population and inhabit more than 89 percent of its land area, and who  have been suffering from the worst form of discrimination since 1947, are for  an independent dispensation under the Indian Constitution.

Needed: four separate political entities
The fact of the  matter is that these categories of people in the State abhor the idea of New  Delhi linking their fate with the Valley-based Kashmiri leaders whose demands  are patently communal, and whose ultimate agenda is separation of Kashmir from India.  Those who know something about Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh, post-1947, will  vouch for this hard reality at once; acknowledge they do not see eye to eye  with the vindictive, discriminatory, unaccommodating and arrogant Kashmiri  Sunni leadership; and recommend division of the State into four separate political entities – one each for the people of Jammu province, people of Ladakh, displaced  Kashmiri Hindus, and Kashmiri Muslims, especially Kashmiri-speaking Sunnis.

(The Shiite Muslims  in Kashmir do not subscribe to the separatist ideology being promoted by  Kashmiri Sunnis. They, like the people of Jammu, Ladakh, and other religious  and ethnic minorities, also constitute a persecuted and discriminated against  social segment. They, unlike the Kashmiri Sunnis, derive their inspiration from  Iran.)    

Objective and  dispassionate Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh-watchers would vouch for the fact that  it is the Kashmir-based Sunni leaders, both the so-called mainstream and the  separatists, who are squarely responsible for the prevailing discontent in  areas other than the one inhabited by the Kashmiri-speaking Sunnis (read  Kashmir Valley proper, and not Kashmir province as a whole). They would say  that it is the communal approach of the Kashmiri Sunni leadership to the issues  confronting the State that has forced the patriotic forces and grossly  discriminated against and persecuted communities to raise extreme demands and  work for the division of the State.

Commentators with  democratic and secular credentials would also endorse the views of the State’s  suffering communities, saying they have every right to demand a dispensation  that guarantees them all their natural and fundamental rights and protects and  advances their general political, economic and social rights.

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