NEW DELHI: People in the newly-formed Union territory of Ladakh are demanding constitutional safeguards and the strengthening of the already existing Hill Councils in Leh and Kargil, to ensure protection of the identity, land, jobs and culture of this region. Parties have joined hands to demand delimitation and re-oganisation of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh.
Ladakh Buddhist Association Leh president, PT Kunzang said that people in Leh want constitutional safeguards to protect their identity. The Leh and Nobra districts, which are Buddhist-majority, have been demanding separate UT status, while Kargil and Zanskar, which are Muslim-majority have opposed abrogation of Article 370. “Some are talking of Schedule 5, 6 and 7, some Article 371, some want other safeguards,” Kunzang said.
Asserting that issuance of ‘domicile’ is not acceptable to them, he said, “We are in favour of issuance of indigenous certificate which will differentiate between a local and non local”. According to him, issuing domicile certificates would affect their identity. “Population of Ladakh is very less (about 3 lakhs) and if domicile is allowed, then after few decades, the Ladakh’s native population will be overshadowed,” he said.
Kunzang said their demand for constitutional safeguards is not illegal. “There is 96% tribal population in Ladakh and they need safeguards to protect their identity”. On setting up of industries, he said, “If it provides employment to locals and does not affect environment, then we will think over it.” On February 17, the Ladadkh Buddhist association, other religious groups and parties including BJP and Congress staged a joint rally in Leh to press Centre to provide constitutional safeguards to the region.