LEH, Mar 13: Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) with the support of all the major political parties, religious bodies and Merchant Association organized a mega peace rally to demand Union Territory (UT) status for Ladakh with legislature powers.
Holding placards “Free Ladakh from Kashmir, One Voice, One Demand UT with legislature” large number of people led by LBA president Tsewang Thinles took part in the peace procession which commenced from Leh market to culminate at historical Polo Ground where religious leaders addressed the gathering.
LAHDC Chairman Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, Deputy Chairman, Executive Councillors and Councillors also participated in the rally. Supporting the UT demands, all the merchants’ establishments in Leh remained shut down for half-day. Later, the LBA submitted a memorandum to Governor SP Malik through Deputy Commissioner Leh, Avny Lavasa.
Addressing a mammoth gathering at historical Polo Ground, Tsewang Thinles said that Ladakhis have been true nationalist who always contributed to the country during all difficult times but Ladakhis were always ignored by Kashmir centric Government. He added that the strategic importance of Ladakh can never be neglected for more time and forcing it to be part of Jammu & Kashmir. He also added that no decision on Kashmir should be taken without taking Ladakhis into confidence.
Assuring full support to the minorities in Ladakh, Thinles said that LBA never tried to suppress minorities nor it intend to do it in future but always take them into confidence in collective decision making. He also informed that LBA would form a committee to talk with Kargil leaders whether they would support the UT or not and then it would accordingly decide about the UT moment in future.
Muslim Coordination Committee representative, Ashraf Ali Barcha, who is also the president of Anjuman Imamiya Leh, said that Ladakh has its own culture, history and language and therefore the long standing demand must be fulfilled as Ladakhis are demanding something which is under Constitution of India.
Christian Community president, Dechan Changa stressed for the need of collective efforts of all stakeholders in Ladakh to put up the demand in effective manner and added that UT demand to Ladakh is not a new one but it was the demand from the days of independence during which Ladakhis delegation have raised the demands.
Ladakh Gonpa Association president, Shatup Chamba said that Ladakhi having unique cultural identities should be granted UT with legislature to safeguard the culture identity. Mentioning about the sacrifices and contribution during all wars, he said that Government of India must listen to the plight of Ladakhis who were also loyal to the Nation.
Earlier, LBA vice president PT Kunzang said that present situation in the Valley is very tense and therefore if Government of India takes a decision on Kashmir issue, Ladakhis must be consulted. He added that recent announcement of Divisional Status to Ladakh region cannot compensate with UT demand.
LBA vice president Rinchen Namgyal and LBA youth president Konchok Ishey also spoke on the occasion.