Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) held a massive protest rally in Leh yesterday, against the repeated discrimination meted out to the people of Ladakh by Kashmir centric policy of the state government.
Led by the LBA, the rally saw the participation of thousands of people across Ladakh including Nambardars, village representatives, Monks from different Monasteries, employees of different government departments, various Women Groups and people from villages of all the five regions of Ladakh including Sham, Changthang, Nubra, Zanskar, and Leh.
Scoopnews.in also reported that the rally, which began from the Chowkhang Vihara passed through main bazaar to culminate at the Polo Ground, also saw thousands of placards and banners saying “We want UT, Free Ladakh from Kashmir.”
Ladakh is demanding Union Territory status for a long time saying that its future is not bright in staying with Kashmir as the government does not pay heed to its aspirations compassionately.
Speakers who addressed the large gathering included President LBA Tsewang Thinles, Vice President P.T. Kunzang, LBA Youth Vice President Konchok Stak, LBA Women Wing General Secretary who expressed resentment on the serious issue of discrimination and inequality suffered by Ladakh at the hands of successive Kashmir-centered governments.
Ladakh reads out the Riot Act to Jammu & Kashmir government on discrimination
Granting of Union Territory status was the main issue which led to the rally but other issues like reservation in promotion, regularization of contractual employees of PDD, Police departments etc and discrimination and unjust recruitment policy of the government were also the sore points.
The allegations of favouritism in distribution of state land, unjustified introduction of Food Security Bill in the District, religious community based appointment of Patwaris, insecurity of the lives of the population and the impact on all fronts including children’s education, tourism and all developmental initiatives due to incessant disturbance in Kashmir due to militancy were also cited as having led to this massive gathering.
The LBA Members condemned the negative attitude of the Kashmir-centered government and later submitted a memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister of India demanding that Ladakh be granted the Union Territory status. The participants of the rally also demanded that action be taken by the state government on issues stated above.
Ladakh Buddhist Association President Tsewang Thinles, as per Scoopnews.in, said that the UT demand is not new and the Ladakhis have been raising the demands since 1947.
He said that Hill Council granted to Ladakh is actually handicapped and without any autonomy. He appealed to the Narendra Modi government to take Ladakhis into confidence when it comes to a decision on the Kashmir issue. He is also quoted as having said that all religious leaders are unanimously demanding the UT status for long and the same was told to Home Minister Rajnath Singh during his visit to Leh last year.
Don’t teach us patriotism, we support Indian Army say Ladakhis
Thinles later lambasted the attempts to malign the image of patriotic Ladakhis.
He said that all wars fought on the soil of Ladakh were won by the Indian Army with the help of locals and none can question the patriotism of a Ladakhi who has always remained faithful to India and will always remain loyal.
But he added that the Ladakhis won’t tolerate discrimination anymore and demanded subsidy for Buddhist pilgrimage at par with what Muslims get for Haj.
Youth leader Konchok Stak said that no Ladakhi needs any certificate on patriotism from anyone on what they feel for India. He said that Ladakhis have rendered logistical and moral support to the Indian Army without failure and will always support it.
But the anger against Kashmir was palpable as the state government was repeatedly targeted for its discriminatory attitude.
Stak spoke at length on the failure of the J&K government’s to regularize the Ladakhi employees in many departments like the PDD, DDK and others while many Ladakhis are working on a meager salary. He also rang the alarm bells in his speech when he reminded the administration about the AK-47 rifles recovery case from the Turtuk village in the past.
Vice president PT Kunzang also underlined, dailyexcelsior.com noted, that the Ladakh Buddhist Association was not against any non-local doing businesses in Ladakh but he said that:
“Kashmiris coming to Ladakh in large numbers when the situation in the Valley is worsening…It must be checked timely.”
Merchant Association has also jumped in support of LBA rally and closed their businesses for half day.