Breakthrough in Ladakh dialogue: LAB gets MHA call to submit agenda afresh

After meeting Apex Body, LG calls on Home Secy

*Leh, Kargil Reps to meet next week to finalize draft

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Mar 31: In a major breakthrough towards resolving the long standing issues of the Union Territory of Ladakh for which agitation is being spearheaded by Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) collectively, the Union Home Ministry has sought revised proposal from the two bodies following meeting of a senior Ladakh leader with MHA functionary.
Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh Brig BD Mishra (Retired) also met Union Home Secretary A K Bhalla in New Delhi while the LAB has called meeting with KDA leaders shortly to draft the proposal before submission to the Union Home Ministry, official sources told the Excelsior.
Unfolding latest developments in Ladakh, sources said a 30-member delegation of LAB initially met the Lieutenant Governor in Leh and briefed him on a host of issues including four-point agenda of Apex Body and KDA which included Statehood for Ladakh, Constitutional safeguards under Sixth Schedule status, two Parliamentary seats for the UT (one each for Leh and Kargil) and employment opportunities for the local youth.
They also took up other issues with Mishra.
Later, a senior functionary of LAB was called for a meeting by the MHA top brass in New Delhi in which it was decided that the LAB and KDA will submit a fresh proposal to the Union Home Ministry listing their major issues after which the two bodies, which are agitating for a long time now, will be called for the dialogue.
“After getting response from the Union Home Minister, we have decided to establish contact with the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) as some of their leaders are camping in Jammu and hold joint meeting to draft the proposal,” sources in the LAB said, adding the meeting is expected to take place next week and could be held in Leh.
Asserting that their issues are known, the LAB leaders said nevertheless they will draft joint proposal with KDA and submit it to the Union Home Ministry as early as possible.
“Our four major demands remain unchanged. We are not going to dilute our stand on any of them including Statehood and Sixth Schedule status,” the LAB leaders said, adding they have already submitted names of LAB and KDA leaders to whom they want to be incorporated in the High Powered Committee (HPC) of MHA for talks with them.
While there was no official word on the meeting the Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh had with Union Home Secretary AK Bhalla in New Delhi last evening, sources said the issues of LAB and KDA leaders appeared to have figured.
The MHA had on January 3 set up a High Powered Committee headed by Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai comprising then LG of Ladakh RK Mathur, Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgayal and many leaders from Leh and Kargil.
However, the LAB and KDA in their meeting on January 7 decided to boycott the HPC on the ground that neither their agenda was included in the HPC nor the names of members recommended by them were in corporated. Later, the LAB and KDA sent names to the Union Home Ministry which they wanted to be included in the HPC.
As per the sources, the Home Ministry might revise HPC and issue fresh agenda and incorporate names given by LAB and KDA among others to initiate stalled dialogue with the two bodies.
It may be mentioned here that LAB and KDA had held joint protest initially in Jammu followed by Jantar Mantar in New Delhi in support of their demands.
Last year, both Autonomous Hill Development Councils of Leh and Kargil had passed separate resolutions seeking Sixth Schedule like status to Ladakh. Leh Council is headed by the BJP while NC is ruling the Council in Kargil.
The BJP is, however, averse to the demand of Statehood for Ladakh saying UT was the demand of Ladakhis for past several years which was fulfilled by the Union Government on August 5, 2019.
Worthwhile to mention here that Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai had last met the joint delegation of Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance during his visit to Leh on August 29, 2021 during which he had assured that a Committee would be set up by the Home Ministry for talks with the two bodies of Leh and Kargil.