With no response from Centre; LAB, KDA call crucial meeting today

Likely to announce agitational path
*MP says 6th Schedule will weaken Hill Councils

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, May 22: With the Central Government almost rejecting demand for Statehood and Sixth Schedule status to the Union Territory of Ladakh, the Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) will be holding a crucial joint meeting in Kargil tomorrow after which they will announce future course of action which could include the agitational path.
Ahead of the LAB and KDA meeting, lone Lok Sabha member from Ladakh and young BJP leader Jamyang Tsering Namgayal said Sixth Schedule status will weaken the twin Hill Development Councils in the UT saying they want strengthening of the Councils.
LAB chairman Thupstan Chhewang, a two-time Lok Sabha member from Ladakh and co-chairman Chering Dorjay told the Excelsior that entire Apex Body will be travelling to Kargil tomorrow from Leh for detailed deliberations with the KDA and chalk out future course of action as there has been no response to their demands from the Union Home Ministry for a long time now. Click here to watch video
“All KDA members will attend the meeting,” Chhewang said, adding the meeting will discuss in detail the no response to their demands from the MHA. Of course, he added, they will decide future course of action.
“There has been no official contact between the Union Home Ministry and LAB and KDA leadership for past several months now. The MHA had constituted a High Powered Committee headed by Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai in first week of January this year but its composition and agenda were rejected by the two bodies of Ladakh and in view of this it didn’t convene any meeting,” insiders said.
They added that some leaders of the Leh Apex Body have also discussed their issues with Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh Brig (Retd) BD Mishra
The LAB and KDA leadership has unofficially gathered that the MHA is in no mood to call them for talks after rejection of composition and agenda circulated by the Union Home Ministry of the High Powered Committee set up in January.
“This has necessitated the LAB and KDA to hold meeting, discuss the issues and decide future course of action,” the sources said, adding the two bodies are expected to hold joint press conference in Kargil after the meeting in which they could announce the agitational path to achieve their four-point agenda.
The agenda included Statehood, Sixth Schedule status, two Parliamentary seats and employment opportunities for Ladakh.
Meanwhile, ahead of the LAB and KDA meeting, Ladakh MP and BJP leader Jamyang Tsering Namgayal told reporters in Kargil that Sixth Schedule status will weaken the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils (LAHDCs) Leh and Kargil while as they want strengthening of the Councils.
“We have raised all these issues in Parliament including Constitutional safeguards, environment, land culture etc. But they are doping only politics. They have not even read the Sixth Schedule carefully,” Namgayal said without naming the Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance.
As exclusively reported by the Excelsior the Central Government has virtually ruled out Statehood as well as Sixth Schedule status to Ladakh but was mulling empowerment of LAHDCs, Leh and Kargil, either by an Act of Parliament or by an order of the Union Home Ministry, to protect land, culture, heritage etc of Ladakh.
In addition to the powers for protection of land, culture etc, the twin Councils of Leh and Kargil will also be empowered with more financial and administrative powers which will help them to carry out more developmental works in their areas of jurisdiction.
However, they clarified that the High Powered Committee (HPC) constituted by the Union Home Ministry in the beginning of this year stands. On the HPC not holding any meeting so far even after four months of constitution, they said, the twin organizations – LAB and KDA have dissociated themselves from the HPC.
The LAB and KDA want members from their bodies to be included in the HPC as per their choice besides incorporation of their agenda. They have already sent letters to the MHA mentioning names from their bodies who should be part of the HPC as well as agenda items for discussion including Sixth Schedule status, Statehood to Ladakh, two Parliamentary seats and job opportunities.