Leh Apex Body Calls Off Border March In Ladakh, Says Peaceful Agitation To Continue

Leh, Apr 6: Accusing the administration of turning Leh into a “war zone” ahead of its march to the China border on April 7, the Leh Apex Body (LAB) on Saturday said it is withdrawing the proposed event to “avoid any sort of confrontation with the law-enforcement agencies”.
Addressing a press conference here, LAB leaders, including its chairman Chering Dorjay and climate activist Sonam Wangchuk, said they have already achieved their objective of creating awareness among the people of the country about the plight of farmers, who are allegedly losing prime pasture land to huge industrial plants in the south and to “Chinese encroachments” in the north.

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The LAB, along with the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), is spearheading an agitation to demand statehood for Ladakh and its inclusion in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. The LAB leaders said they will continue with their struggle in a peaceful manner through chain hunger strikes and protests.
“Looking at the prevailing situation (in Leh), this government acts like a mad elephant having no care for national security or people’s sentiments and their problems. Its only concern is winning elections and it can stop people from marching even at the cost of using violence.
“We are concerned about national security and the peaceful atmosphere. Secondly, our aim to generate awareness in the country about the ground situation in Ladakh has been achieved, so we are withdrawing the proposed border march in the interest of people and to avoid confrontation with the law-enforcement agencies,” Wangchuk told reporters.
The LAB had announced the “border (Pashmina) march” to Changthang, near the China border, to highlight the condition of grazers.
In a move apparently aimed at countering the march, Leh District Magistrate (DM) Santosh Sukhadeve said on Friday that prohibitory orders issued under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) would be in force on April 7 and directed that no procession, rally or march should be taken out without his prior approval.
The DM said the senior superintendent of police has reported about reliable inputs indicating a possible breach of peace and public tranquillity in the district.
“No one shall use vehicle-mounted or other loudspeakers without prior approval from the competent authority. No public gathering without prior approval of the competent authority shall be allowed. No one shall make any statements which have the potential to disturb communal harmony and public tranquillity and which may lead to law-and-order problems in the district,” the DM’s order said.
“All persons shall ensure that they follow the Model Code of Conduct and that all the activities are according to the law,” it added.
In a separate order, Additional Director General of Police S D Singh Jamwal ordered the scaling down of the speed of internet and mobile data services of 3G, 4G and 5G connections and public 5G Wi-Fi facilities to 2G within a 10-kilometre radius of Leh city for 24 hours from 6 pm on Saturday.
In another order, the DM prohibited the posting or sharing of such messages on social media that have the potential to disturb communal harmony, peace and tranquillity and may lead to a law-and-order situation in the district.
“It shall be the responsibility of the admins of WhatsApp groups or social media platforms to monitor and filter such content immediately,” the order read.
Wangchuk said they were expecting the government to stop the march as “there are many things to keep under the wraps. The restriction ahead of the border march is an overreaction”.
He said the deployment of police and paramilitary forces with full riot gear, calling volunteers to police stations and threatening them, besides causing inconvenience to people after turning Leh into a “war zone” show that there are chances of a clash under a well thought out conspiracy to sabotage the agitation of Ladakhis for their democratic rights.
Wangchuk, who held a hunger strike for 21 days till March 26, said they strongly believe in peace and peaceful ways to highlight their demands, including those connected with the prevailing conditions of the Pashmina grazers.
The LAB demanded immediate withdrawal of the prohibitory orders and restoration of internet services to normal speed to avoid any inconvenience to people, especially patients, tourists and students. (Agencies)