LEH — After the deadlock for nearly a year, the leadership of twin districts of Ladakh has chalked a four-point demand before the Government of India (GoI) that includes Constitutional safeguard and full-fledged statehood for the region.

The amalgam of different groups, including the political, social, religious, and student groups, Apex Body based in Leh and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) in Kargil were formed in the region a year after the bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. Both the groups were demanding Constitutional safeguard and other benefits under separate umbrellas with differences of ideas.

The political movement in the region took a fresh shape after the Union Home Ministry invited the Leh-based Apex Body for talks days after they called for a complete poll boycott ahead of the 6th General Hill Council Elections following which the Central government ordered the formation of a committee to hold deliberations with the leadership of Ladakh to look into the possibilities of region’s inclusion into 6th Schedule.

The groups of twin districts on Sunday held a joint meeting in Leh to chalk out a joint strategy. The meeting was attended by the Chairman of Apex Body, co-chairperson of KDA along with their members besides the CEC’s of both the districts and ruling party BJP’s Leh district president.

The Apex Body based in Leh in January in the ensuing year met the Home Minister of India while the team of KDA met the committee chairman GK Reddy last month and put forth their demands.

The leaders of both the groups who were part of the nearly 5-hour-long meeting said that both the groups have developed consensus on a similar agenda and a four-point demand has been decided which was already out in the public domain. The leaders said they expect that the Home Ministry will call for another round of meeting soon, so that matters are discussed well in time.

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“The four-point demand includes full-fledged statehood for Ladakh, complete Constitutional safeguard, resident certificate, separate Parliamentary seat for Leh and Kargil besides one Rajya Sabha seat,” they said.

Chief Executive Councilor (CEC) Kargil, Feroz Khan who was part of the meeting said that the joint demands have now been raised by both the groups in the recently held meeting. “Leh and Kargil will now fight on the four-point agenda together besides a joint committee of Kargil and Leh will be formed to hold deliberations with the Home Ministry in the next visit,” he said.

Khan informed that the joint committee will have at least four members each with similar demands. “Two rounds of talks have taken place and deliberations will continue with the Home Ministry and then with the Prime Minister of India,” he said.

A senior member of BJP in Leh, on the conditions of anonymity, said that the four-point agenda has been prepared during the recent meeting. “Leh leadership including the members of BJP will hold a meeting tomorrow and that will also be made public,” he said, adding that the meeting may take place in the afternoon.

Asgar Karbalai, a member of KDA, who was part of the meeting said that they demand a full-fledged state for the region and the Lok Sabha seat should be increased from one to two besides one Rajya Sabha seat for the region was demanded.

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He said that Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) like in erstwhile state pattern must be issued to safeguard the jobs of locals.

For Constitutional safeguard, Karbalai said that they demand Article 371 or 6th Schedule and one that is deemed fit by the Central government must be given.

“It depends on how the Home Ministry responds. We are scheduled to either meet MHA or the Prime Minister in days to come but so far no such demand of meeting with the PM was made since the MHA has assured that the talks will take place after a joint committee is formed in Ladakh region,” he said.

“We have come to a joint agenda now and the demands raised have been put in the public domain for the Central government and Union Home Ministry,” he added.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the meeting between the two groups, Thupstan Chewang – the chairman of Leh-based Apex Body – said that the joint demands raised will be prioritized and unless they are met, efforts will continue.

“We will welcome it if the demands are met early and in case of delay, we will hit the roads for the student community. We want the dialogue process to start with the Home Ministry committee,” he said after the meeting.

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