Divisional status for Ladakh- Its implications

Jamyang Tsering Namgyal
It is important to analyse the implications of the recent announcement for a Divisional status for Ladakh in the legislative assembly. For decades, Ladakh’s concerns have been to get away from the control of Kashmir administration. In the 1970s, the demand for a “Central Administration” and UT was undermined by dividing Ladakh on communal basis by creating two districts. Kashmiri leadership successfully kept both the communities divided through tactful “divide and rule” policy. Then they misguided the Kargili leaders by suggesting that UT status will make Muslims of Ladakh to fall under the Buddhist dominence and they will suffer enormously thereafter. Instead, they sold a new idea of “Greater Ladakh” which I consider was a brainchild of former Chief minister of J&K  Sheikh Abdullah. The concept of GL is was to bring in the multilateral dimension of involving Pakistan, China, India and UN Security Council to focus on Ladakh. It seems the concept had not attracted the attention of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. It seems Greater Ladakh idea was simply devised to keep Ladakh polarised so that Ladakh remains subjugated forever. In reality, Kashmiri discrimination against Buddhist and Muslim of Ladakh had been equal. Kashmiris carry contempt for people of both Leh and Kargil. Why Kargil remained more backward despite religious affinity, despite geographical proximity and despite better connectivity with Kashmir?
In the past, our visionary leaders have rejected the Divisional status proposal for Ladakh on the ground that it would dilute our movement for UT. In the hindsight, conferment of LAHDCs too has damaged the cause for UT status. LAHDCs have, in fact, deviated us from our genuine demand or movement of UT by appeasing our leaders with some lollypops – a superficial sense of empowerment. If we think that so long as we can grab more from the Kashmir government to empower ourselves – it is likely to be a misnomer and instead it will bring more resentment against Kashmir among people of Ladakh in the longer run. Of course, such a status will serve to keep us divided and undermine our UT demand.
I must say here that this is neither only a family matter of Nurboo Gyalson and Aga Sayed Rizvi nor a party’s internal matter of NC-Congress. I consider this to be a critical decision that will impact Ladakh’s interest and they should not be allowed to push for such an idea for their narrow political interests without a full-fledged public debate. I would suggest that all the stakeholders, people, community and most importantly political leaders of all parties of Ladakh region should deliberate on the issue.
* On the negative side, the Divisional Status for Ladakh with a Principal Secretary Ranked officer above LAHDC will oversee functioning of the Council. This will undermine the LAHDC in the first place. In fact, it will reinforce the LAHDC Act-1995 “with approval of Govt” and eventually the power of LAHDC will go back to Srinagar. The Principal Secretary will serve as a watchdog and will surly cause hindrance to the daily business of Council. Constitutionally the Deputy Commissioners of Leh and Kargil are under secretary to LAHDCs but in practice CECs has no control over a Deputy Commissioners due to many reasons.
* We will have a Divisional Commissioner who will be the head of the Revenue Department at the divisional level. Will he function independently without the direction form Kashmir?
* We will have an Inspector General of Police (IGP) in Ladakh Division who is overall In-charge of law and order situation in the zone that too will operate by Kashmiris. We have had enough experience with Kashmir Police (KP).
* Will the Principal Secretary ranked Officer, Divisional commissioner, IGP and others high ranked officials will be under the CEC or LADHC?
* Will LAHDC, under the Divisional Status, get more power for example to create posts for both District and Divisional Cadres, transfers, posting and promotion of bureaucrats?
* Will Divisional Status be helpful to increase or grab more funds, create some needful new institutions…like ITI and Medical Collage, Cultural learning center etc?
* What exactly entails the advantages of Divisional Status for Ladakh?
* NC centric leaders and its government are demanding Greater Autonomy with pre 1953 status in which except for defense, foreign affairs, finance and communications, the Parliament has no interference. Thus, the state’s residents live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to other Indians. The pre-1953 will abolish all the post-1953 amendments from J&K constitution including the Jammu and Kashmir Scheduled Tribes Order, 1989, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Act-1995, Comptroller and others Presidential orders. It will also withdraws all the provision granted post 1953 including Auditor General of India, Election Commission of India jurisdiction of Supreme Court (Indian Apex court) and many impotent institutions. Are we ready to allow Kashmir government to have stronger hold over the people and land of Ladakh????
* Sh. Nurboo Gyalson (MLC) spoke to State Council, “…..it is mandatory for State Government to create separate Division status for Ladakh region which is prolong genuine pending demands from the people of Ladakh Region” and at the contrary in his public speech on 28th July 2013 at Polo Ground Sh. Thupstan Chhewang said, we have never demanded a Divisional Status and rather we had rejected it once because we don’t want to be under Kashmiri ruler more”. He added, “We have accepted LAHDC with a commitment to strive for our genuine goal UT”.
* So, “who you are to take such big decisions without considering the views of the people and leaders of Ladakh??? Do you really know the future aspects of this Divisional Status??? Are you [Congress] making fool of people?” Thupstan Chhewang questioned.
( The author is  Youth Politician of Ladakh)
(The views of the author are personel)