Ladakh demands UT status- J & K division only solution

  • By Hari Om
  • 15 December 2009

Autonomous Hill Development Council                                        
Meanwhile, the  agitating LBA not only suspended the agitation but also suspended its demand  for Union Territory status, in view of the “increasing anti-national activities  elsewhere in the state” and “keeping in mind the larger national interest.”  However, the 1989 LBA-sponsored agitation did move the authorities in New Delhi  to an extent, and the authorities agreed to set up in the trans-Himalayan  region Autonomous Hill Development Council more or less on the lines of the  Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. It was a sort of compromise between the State  Government, the Central Government and the LBA. It was called the tripartite  agreement and was signed on October 29, 1989.

It was hoped that  the authorities in Kashmir would allow the democratically-elected Ladakh  Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) to exercise some quantum of autonomy  and not “starve it of funds.” But  what has been happening since then is that the State Government has been doing  everything it could to render the LAHDC defunct for all practical purposes.

Fear of Kashmir independence
The prevailing  anger, unrest and discontent in Ladakh, particularly in the Buddhist-majority  Leh district, needs to be viewed in this context. But more than that, what has  forced the peace-loving Ladakhis to again demand Union Territory status for  their region is the loud clamour in Kashmir for independence from India. In  other words, the December 8 LUTF-sponsored public meeting at Polo Ground must  be viewed in the context of the shabby treatment New Delhi and the State  Government have meted out to the distant Ladakhis. It should also be seen in  the light of New Delhi’s mind-boggling gestures towards the Kashmiri  leadership, notwithstanding its well-known anti-India, pro-Pakistan, separatist  and highly sectarian credentials.

The loud assertion  of Ladakhis that they are left with no choice but to achieve “our long-standing demand for Union Territory  status” so that they can “run their  own affairs and safeguard their interests” cannot be construed as  preposterous. The demand is genuine and needs to be accepted forthwith.

Even otherwise, New  Delhi has no moral and political authority to lump the patriotic Ladakhis with  Kashmiri separatists and religious bigots. How could New Delhi think in terms  of a negotiated settlement of Jammu & Kashmir with Kashmiri separatists,  and impose the same on the vast majority of the people of the State who are  liberal and secular and wish to link their fate with New Delhi for better or  for worse? 

What then is the  permanent solution to the problem facing the State? The only solution is  segregation of Jammu and Ladakh from Kashmir. Such a segregation would not only  limit the area of contention and strife to the Valley - the real trouble-spot –  and teach the Kashmiri separatists a lesson, but also enable New Delhi to  initiate a dialogue process with Kashmiri leaders of all hues, including those  representing the internally-displaced Kashmiri Hindus, to find out what could  satisfy them, but with the condition that the solution would be rational and  national.

The author is Chair Professor, Gulab Singh  Chair, Jammu University, Jammu
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