Major development in Ladakh: Apex Body calls for Sikkim-like Assembly to UT

Rejects domicile, calls for State Subject-like document for jobs

Draft ready for high-level discussions with MHA


Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Mar 16: In a significant development in mountain-locked Ladakh, which after celebrating the sanction of Union Territory status has been simmering seeking steps for protection of culture and identity through Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India, has now added the demand for Sikkim-type 30-seat Legislature to the Union Territory and rejected domicile certificate while seeking State Subject or it’s like document for the locals for protecting their jobs and other issues.
A draft prepared by the Apex Committee of Leh as Kargil has dissociated itself from the Panel for talks with the Union Home Ministry-led Panel, which is headed by Minister of State for Home GK Reddy, has suggested that along with Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, the Union Territory of Ladakh should also be accorded 30-member Assembly on the pattern of Sikkim, which the body claims has only couple of lakh higher population than the Union Territory of Ladakh.
This is for the first time since Ladakh was granted the status of Union Territory after being segregated from erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir that the Apex Committee has listed the demand for grant of Legislature to the UT in an official document which is due to be placed before the Union Ministry of Home Affairs shortly though such a demand was raised from certain quarters earlier also.
Confirming that the Apex Committee will be demanding Legislature for the Union Territory of Ladakh, Committee’s senior leader and former two-time Member Parliament Thupstan Chhewang told the Excelsior on telephone that population of Sikkim is only slightly more than that of Ladakh.
“If Sikkim can be granted the Legislature, why can’t Ladakh? Moreover, we are part of very sensitive region having boundaries with China and Pakistan. The demand of Legislature is in addition to our Sixth Schedule status demand which also remains our foremost concern,’’ Chhewang said.
Reliable sources said the Apex Committee of Ladakh, which has members from different political, social and religious organizations but only from Leh district as Kargil had refused to associate itself with the Panel, has rejected the offer for grant of domicile like certificates to the people in the Union Territory on the pattern of Jammu and Kashmir on the ground that people living in the UT for 15 plus years will also be entitled to the domiciles and would manage to get jobs and lands there.
Instead, according to sources, the Apex Committee has demanded either restoration of State Subjects which existed in the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State, of which Ladakh was third division, or State Subject like document which should be given only to the original residents of Ladakh for facilitating their recruitment into jobs and purchase of land besides other purposes.
It may be mentioned here that there has been no regular recruitment in the Government departments in Ladakh for the last one and a half year since it was granted the Union Territory status in the absence of Recruitment Rules and document in support of resident of Ladakh. This has caused strong resentment among the people especially the unemployed educated youth. The issue has also repeatedly been taken up by the Chairpersons of Autonomous Hill Development Councils of Leh and Kargil with Lieutenant Governor Radha Krishna Mathur and the Central Government representatives as work was also suffering in the absence of fresh recruitment in the UT.
As far as demand for Legislature for Ladakh is concerned, sources said it has been raised by the Apex Committee on the pattern of Sikkim which has 30-member Assembly with slightly higher population than Ladakh but the UT’s area and topography is higher. However, Ladakh had only four seats in the Legislative Assembly of erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir and lone Lok Sabha seat but both Leh and Kargil districts have one Autonomous Hill Development Council each with both having 26 elected and four nominated members.
In addition, the Apex Committee will also raise the demand for allotting the Union Territory of Ladakh the cadre for All India Services whether AGMUT or otherwise and introduction of Ladakh Civil Services, sources said.
Presently, majority of IAS and IPS officers posted in Ladakh belonged to Jammu and Kashmir cadre which has since been merged into AGMUT. Apart from All India Services officers, a number of Jammu and Kashmir Administrative Services, Jammu and Kashmir Police Services and other officers from J&K are also posted on deputation to Ladakh.
On Sixth Schedule, sources said, the Apex Committee will insist on grant of Sixth Schedule status to the UT but will not be rigid if the Government of India comes out with Sixth Schedule-like status proposal.
“Once the draft of demands by the Apex Committee is finalized, it will seek meeting with Union Minister of State for Home GK Reddy for discussions,’’ sources said.