Complete bandh in Ladakh for Statehood, organizers say will intensify agitation

A view of complete bandh in Leh on Monday. -Excelsior/Morup Stanzin
A view of complete bandh in Leh on Monday. -Excelsior/Morup Stanzin

‘Strong message to political establishment in New Delhi’

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Dec 13: A complete bandh was today observed in the Union Territory of Ladakh in response to a joint call given by the Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), a conglomerate of various political, social, religious and student bodies minus BJP and its affiliates in support of Statehood for Ladakh and other demands.

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This was second bandh in Ladakh in last three and half months, the first being on August 29, which was also called jointly by Leh and Kargil bodies after visiting Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai didn’t invite them for talks but called other bodies.
After successful bandh, the LAB, without naming BJP and its wings, said it was slap on the face of those who conspired to flop the bandh by circulating fake letters that it has been called off while KDA announced that the movement now will be taken to village, block, tehsil and district levels as the Central Government has failed to respond to their demands.
Demands for which the LAB and KDA had given the bandh call include Statehood for Ladakh, Sixth Schedule like Constitutional status, two Lok Sabha seats (one each for Leh and Kargil districts) and one Rajya Sabha seat.
The bandh was complete in both Leh and Kargil districts which comprised the Union Territory of Ladakh. Shops and all other business establishments including hotels remained close in response to the bandh call.
In view of ‘Chaka Jam’ call by the two bodies, transport also remained suspended in the Union Territory.
Attendance was thin in some of the Government offices as the staff couldn’t make it to their destinations in the absence of transport.
However, the bandh was completely peaceful in all parts of Ladakh with no report of any untoward incident reported from any area. Police personnel had been deployed in some parts.
After the strike call, LAB leader Chering Dorjay told media persons in Leh that bandh was successful in the entire Union Territory of Ladakh in support of their demands.
“The bandh call has sent a reminder to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs which didn’t invite the LAB and KDA for talks so far on their demands. The bandh was in protest against that,” Dorjay said.
He took strong exception to rumours and fake letters circulated by certain mischievous elements on the name of Leh Apex Body yesterday that the strike call has been withdrawn.
“Such elements wanted to sabotage the bandh call but didn’t succeed. Rather, the successful bandh was slap on their face,” Dorjay said, adding they will file written complaint to police and seek investigations into circulation of fake letter.
Addressing a press conference in Kargil, KDA co-chairman Haji Asgar Ali Karbalaie announced that the LAB and KDA will shortly meet and the agitation will be taken to village, block, tehsil and district levels.
“There will be mass mobilization of the people in support of the demands,” he said.
Karbalaie said a message has gone to the political establishment in New Delhi that Ladakhis are serious and concerned about their demands. Even now if there is no response from the Central Government, the people will hit roads and will be ready for any sacrifice.
In response to a question, he said some elements within the BJP are against LAB and KDA as well as aspirations of the people of Ladakh. However, he added, such elements now stand exposed as the bandh was a complete success.