Shah’s intervention averts major standoff between Leh, Kargil; Monk suspends yatra

Monk Palga Rinpoche on reaching village Mulbek along Leh-Kargil border on Monday. -Excelsior/Morup Stanzin
Monk Palga Rinpoche on reaching village Mulbek along Leh-Kargil border on Monday. -Excelsior/Morup Stanzin

HM calls up Ladakh MP, assures issue will be addressed

March was politically motivated, say some leaders

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, June 13: Following reported intervention by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, yatra by Buddhist Monk to Kargil from Leh was put off midway at village Mulbek, just few kilometres short of Kargil early today averting tension between Leh and Kargil districts as the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) had strongly opposed the yatra saying this has potential to vitiate peaceful situation across the Union Territory.
Highly placed sources told the Excelsior that Shah reportedly rang up Ladakh Lok Sabha member Jamyang Tsering Namgayal, who belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and asked him to convey his message to the monk to suspend the yatra with the assurance that issue will be shortly and amicably resolved.
“Namgayal rushed to village Mulbek, last Buddhist village in Leh district before start of Kargil boundary, early today and delivered Amit Shah’s message to the Monk Palga Rinpoche who was marching from Leh to Kargil along with large number of people,” sources said.
After long persuasion, the Monk agreed to suspend the padyatra, sources said.
However, he will perform religious rituals at village Mulbek before returning to Leh, they added.
“This has averted major standoff between Buddhists and Muslims in sensitive Union Territory of Ladakh as the Kargil Democratic Alliance, an amalgam of all political, social, religious and student organizations, had opposed the padyatra to Kargil,” sources said.
Prior to the standoff, the Leh Buddhist Association (LBA) and KDA met in Kargil last month and stressed for peaceful resolution of the issue. However, the Monk decided to start the yatra.
Some of the Buddhist leaders in Leh were not supportive of the yatra including those affiliated with Leh Apex Body (LAB).
“The yatra was politically motivated,” a LAB leader said, adding it was aimed at shattering the unity between LAB and KDA which had joined hand in August last year to jointly fight for Statehood to Ladakh, Sixth Schedule like status, two Lok Sabha seats, one Rajya Sabha seat and generation of job opportunities.
The rally was being taken for demanding construction of a Gompa inside Kargil.
The yatra, Eco Pad Yatra, started from Leh a few days ago and reached Mulbek, a Buddhist centre near Kargil, where it was called off.
It was set to move towards the Kargil main town, where Muslim religious organisations had expressed their reservations, terming it a breach of an agreement between the leadership of the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA), Leh and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA).
Both the LBA and KDA are influential political bodies based in Leh and Kargil. The LBA is headed by region’s senior most leader Thupstan Chhewang, a two-time Member of Parliament from Ladakh and former Bharatiya Janata Party leader while KDA is headed jointly by Qamar Ali Akhoon, former Minister and Haji Asgar Ali Karbalaie, ex MLA.
The Kargil township, located on the banks of the Indus river and locally called Suru, is crunched for land. In the past, the Government has struggled to put up a decent hospital, college or a sports stadia.
In the past few months, the KDA and LBA have held a series of meetings over the Gompa land. Leaders of both the LBA and KDA had resolved to find a permanent solution to the issue through dialogue.
The Kargil unit of the LBA, however, was adamant on taking out a rally and holding a symbolic puja near a decrepit site they claim had been earmarked for a Gompa construction in 1961. But, the KDA said then Government of Jammu and Kashmir had scrapped the use of the land for religious activities in 1969.
Saying the “peace” rally had political motives to ruin brotherhood in the region, a senior politician from Kargil, said that the proposed march was not in tune with the agreement that the KDA and LBA had entered into on May 26, 2022.
“This rally was a breach to the agreement reached out by the collective leadership,” he said.
He said the politically motivated yatra is aimed to create tension in the two regions at a crucial time when they are fighting for a larger goal.
Skarma Dadul, Kargil-based LBA president, however, said he has asked the current LG administration to restore two kanal (8 kanals is equal to an acre) of land for Gompa construction as per the 1961 order.
“We don’t agree with the 1969 order. We want to establish Gompa in Kargil and for that we will continue our agitation,” he said.