SRINAGAR: The Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), which comprises political and religious leaders, civil society members and traders, will participate in the July 1 dialogue with Centre on two-point agenda restore Articles 370 and 35A or grant statehood with legislature to Ladakh Union Territory.
The KDA has been invited for talks by Minister of State for Home G K Reddy in New Delhi. “We have received the invitation and 11 members of the KDA will be attending the meeting,” KDA co-chairperson and former MLA Asgar Ali Karbalai told The New Indian Express.
“We will demand restoration of Articles 370 and 35A. In case they say the matter is sub judice as the abrogation of J&K’s special status has been challenged in Supreme Court, we will demand granting of full statehood with the legislature to Ladakh.”
Karbalai said the alliance would be demanding statehood on the pattern of Sikkim. “Sikkim was given statehood with a legislature in 1975. At that time, its population was 2.50 lakh while we have more than 3 lakh,” he said. In terms of size also, Ladakh, with over 80,000 sq kms of area, is bigger than Sikkim which has about 7,000 sq km area.
“Besides, we are more strategically located. On one side, we have Pakistan and on the other side China. Since Ladakh is more strategically located, it should be given full statehood with a legislature to make its own laws,” the KDA leader said.
Asked if they would also seek constitutional safeguards for Ladakh, Karbalai said, “If statehood with a legislature is granted, then we can make laws to reserve jobs for locals and protect land rights of the local population. We can make laws to protect our culture and environment.”
The Kargil leaders’ talks with the Centre comes days after the July 24 All-Party Meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where the Centre came up with a roadmap forJ&K — delimitation, elections and then restoration of statehood.
Delimitation panel to meet today
The delimitation commission tasked with redrawing parliamentary and assembly constituencies in J&K is likely to hold an internal meeting on Wednesday to finalise its plans on consultations with political parties soon. The commission was appointed in February last year.