MHA to come up with new HPC, agenda to resume stalled dialogue in Ladakh

Top officials discuss various issues

*MP wants LAB, KDA to take up issues on table of talks
Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Feb 6: Dialogue between the Union Home Ministry and representatives from Ladakh is set to be resume shortly after the former has reportedly decided to meet two demands of the protesting bodies including cut in members of the High Powered Committee (HPC) and changing agenda for the dialogue even as lone Lok Sabha member from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgayal called upon the two bodies to come to table of dialogue saying the Central Government is more concerned about development of the Union Territory.
Sources told the Excelsior that a very senior Emissary from the Union Home Ministry met a senior leader of the Apex Body in New Delhi during which the process for resumption of stalled dialogue was discussed and it has almost been agreed upon that two conditions of Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) to prune the HPC and include their agenda in talks will be agreed upon.
“The Union Home Ministry is expected to shortly come out with revised HPC as well as agenda,” the sources said, adding this could result into resumption of dialogue between the MHA and Apex Body and KDA, which are demanding Sixth Schedule status, Statehood, two Lok Sabha seats and jobs for Ladakh.
However, the LAB leaders with whom the Home Ministry Emissary is in touch couldn’t be approached for the comments.
BJP MP from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgayal, meanwhile, told the Excelsior on telephone from New Delhi where he is attending the Parliament session, that the LAB and KDA should come forward for talks even as he described their agenda as “politically motivated”.
“First they (the LAB and KDA representatives) were asking for talks. The Home Ministry set up the HPC for initiating dialogue. Then, they started raising other demands on agenda and HPC. They must sit on the dialogue table and take up issues there,” Namgayal said.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is so concerned about environment in Ladakh that he first announced series of measures for carbon-neutral UT in 2019 and since then thousands of crores are being spent for the purpose. The UT administration in Ladakh has also initiated series of measures for protection of environment, he added.
Sources, however, said that the Home Ministry wants the dialogue to be resumed with LAB and KDA and, therefore, it is likely to revise the HPC and agenda. All official members of the HPC including those from MHA, Ladakh administration and MHA are likely to stay in the Committee while those from LAB and KDA would be taken as proposed by the twin bodies spearheading agitation in Ladakh for last more than one and a half years.
Endorsing the talks between Home Ministry and people of Ladakh, the two bodies in their letter to the MHA earlier admitted that this can be the only way for finding lasting solutions. However, they called for specific agenda and proper representation of the people saying nothing should be vague to go ahead with debate without attaching any pre-conditions about the course it takes or ought to take. They also called for constant and continuous dialogue.
They, however, said the discussions would be meaningful if the agenda includes four of their demands including full-fledged Statehood for Ladakh, Constitutional safeguards under the Sixth Schedule, recruitment and job reservation for local youth and establishment of an independent Public Service Commission and raising the number of Parliamentary constituencies to two from one at present.
The MHA has mandated the HPC to discuss measures to protect the Ladakh region’s unique culture and language taking into consideration its geographical location and strategic importance, ensure protection of land and employment for the people of Ladakh, discuss measures for inclusive development and employment generation and measures related to empowerment of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils (LAHDC) of Leh and Kargil.
As per the previous MHA order, the HPC headed by Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai as Chairman will have Radha Krishna Mathur, Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh, Jamyang Tsering Namgayal, MP Ladakh, Chairpersons-cum-CECs of LAHDC Leh and Kargil, Joint Secretary, Department of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh Affairs in MHA, Director/ Deputy Secretary (Ladakh), Department of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh Affairs, MHA as Member Secretary and one nominated member from MHA.
The HPC had five members of LAB and four from KDA.
They include Thupstan Chhewang, Chairman LAB and president LBA, Nawang Rigzin Jora, former Minister and president, Territorial Congress Committee Ladakh, Ashraf Ali Barcha, president, Anjuman-e-Islamia; Shia body, Leh, Acharya Stanzin Wangtak, president, All Ladakh Gompa Association and Kushok Thiksey alias Nawang Chamba Stanzin alias Thiksey Rinpoche, Leh, all from LAB and Asgar Ali Karblai, co-chairman KDA and Working President Territorial Congress Committee, Ladakh, Qamar Ali Akhoon, co-chairman KDA and senior NC leader, Sajjad Kargili, social activist and representative, Islamia School Kargil and Tsewang Nurboo, president LBA Kargil.