Leh, Sept 24: A complete shutdown was observed in Leh region on Thursday, where people are demanding sixth schedule for Ladakh region, which was given separated from erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State after the Indian Parliament abrogated Article 370 and 35A on August 5 last year and split it into two Union Territories, Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
All the markets including the Leh market observed complete shutdown, whereas protest demonstrations were also held at some places.
The strike call had complete support from all the religious, social, trade and political parties of the region.
An observance of a complete shutdown indicated that people of the region have toughened their stand in favour of their demand of implementation of sixth schedule from Ladakh, which observers believe that may get more intensified if the demand is not met.
The strike call was given by recently constituted People’s Movement for Sixth Schedule for Ladakh, which has called for the boycott of the forthcoming Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh polls scheduled to be held on October 16. Former BJP leaders are part of the campaign.
The People’s Movement for Sixth Schedule for Ladakh is a broad based association of leaders of all political parties along with representatives of religious and social organizations.
The boycott was announced on Tuesday through a single line statement saying, “The apex body of People’s Movement for Sixth Schedule for Ladakh, unanimously resolved to boycott sixth LAHDC election till such time the constitutional safeguard under sixth schedule on the lines of Bodo Territorial Council is not extended to UT Ladakh and its people.” The signatories to the statement include the BJP district president as well.
The other political leaders who have issued the statement include former Lok Sabha MP Thupstan Chhewang, former Jammu and Kashmir minister Cherring Dorje Lakrook, president of the powerful Ladakh Buddhist Association P T Kunzang, former Rajya Sabha member Skyabje Thiksey Khanpo Rinpochey, president of All Ladakh Gonpa Association, Ven Shatap Chamba, president of Anjuman Immamia Ashraf Ali Barcha, president of Anjuman Moin-ul Islam Dr Abdul Qayum, president of Christian Community Dechen Chamgha, former minister and president of Territorial Congress Nawang Rigzin Jora, district president of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) Nawang Samstan, convener of Aam Aadmi Party T Phuntsog and president of LEAF (Ladakh students’ Environmental Action Forum) Jigmet Paljor.
The autonomous district councils under the Sixth Schedule have the powers to make laws, rules and regulations in various spheres including land and forest management, water resources, agriculture, public health, formation of village councils, sanitation, village and town level policing etc. These councils can also form courts to hear cases where both the parties are from Scheduled Tribes and the punishment is imprisonment up to five years. They also have revenue collection and taxation powers.
Various groups and organizations like the District Bar Association, Leh have extended their support to the apex body. The Association has announced its decision to approach its counterpart in Kargil and also start an awareness campaign to educate the masses on the Sixth Schedule.
The polling for LAHDC Leh that is scheduled for October 16 is the first such electoral exercise in the region after Ladakh was carved out from Jammu and Kashmir and granted the union territory status on August 5, 2019. The polls to the council in Kargil are still about three years away when the tenure of the present council there is over. (KDC)