All parties, organizations excepting BJP join rally
*Half-day bandh observed in Leh
JAMMU, Jan 31: Almost all political parties excepting BJP; and social and religious organizations today joined hands to launch struggle in favour of grant of Sixth Schedule to the Union Territory of Ladakh by holding a massive rally at Polo Grounds in Leh which among others was attended by education reformist Sonam Wangchuk who agreed to be part of the delegation to meet the Union Home Ministry team and join the Leh Apex Body (LAB), which along with the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), is struggling for implementation of four-point agenda in the UT.
Political observers described today’s rally in the Leh as “historic” from the gathering point of view, both on dais as well as on ground.
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On the dais were political leaders of almost all parties besides leaders of social and religious organizations excepting the Bharatiya Janata Party which has maintained distance from the LAB and KDA. On the ground were thousands of people chanting slogans in favour of Sonam Wangchuk, Sixth Schedule and Statehood for Ladakh among other demands.
Leh observed half-day bandh to ensure success of the rally.
At the end of his five-day fast at Himalayan Institutes of Alternative Ladakh (HIAL), Sonam Wangchuk, an engineer turned activist whose life inspired a character in Bollywood movie ‘3 Idiots’, was taken to the rally venue and accorded grand reception.
Wangchuk, who was fasting for grant of Sixth Schedule status to Ladakh, announced at the rally venue that if the talks are not initiated and the demand is not met, he will fast for 10 days, then 15 and 20 days followed by indefinite fast till his last breath.
Addressing the rally, LAB chairman Thupstan Chhewang offered Wangchuk to join their delegation whenever they are invited for talks by the Union Home Ministry and also affiliated himself with the LAB.
Wangchuk agreed to accompany the delegation for talks with the Home Ministry and also assured that he will affiliate himself with the Leh Apex Body
Significantly, none of the BJP leaders were present at the rally.
Reacting to this, Chhewang said, Jamyang Tsering Namgayal, BJP Lok Sabha member from Ladakh represents all people and at least he should have joined the rally as he himself has supported the demand for grant of Sixth Schedule status to the Union Territory of Ladakh.
Chhewang, a two-time Lok Sabha member from Ladakh, said representatives of almost all political parties, social and religious organizations, attended today’s rally.
The BJP has distanced itself from the LAB and KDA demand for grant of Statehood to Ladakh on the ground that UT was long pending demand of the people of Ladakh which was met by the BJP Government on August 5, 2019 while bifurcating erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The MHA had earlier constituted a High Powered Committee (HPC) which drew flak from LAB and KDA as in its agenda their major demands like Statehood and Sixth schedule status to Ladakh were missing.
Both the organizations had announced boycott of the HPC.
As per the 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 Namgyal, 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.
Last year, both Autonomous Hill Development Councils of Leh and Kargil had passed separate resolutions seeking Sixth Schedule like status to Ladakh. Leh Council is headed by the BJP while NC is ruling the Council in Kargil.
Worthwhile to mention here that Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai had last met the joint delegation of Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance during his visit to Leh on August 29, 2021 during which he had assured that a Committee would be set up by the Home Ministry for talks with the two bodies of Leh and Kargil.