Aliens in their own land

The Aryans of Ladakh yearn to be part of the state’s developmental agenda, but their case has failed to find favour with the administration, reports Navreet Milton

The Aryans live in small hamlets, surrounded by huge rocky mountains, in altitudes close to 10,000 feet above sea level
The Aryans live in small hamlets, surrounded by huge rocky mountains,
in altitudes close to 10,000 feet above sea level
Photo by the writer

IS there anyone in the country who worries for us?" These are the anxious concerns voiced by the native Aryan tribe, residing in the small mountain hamlets of Darchiks, Dah, Hanu and Garkhun in Kargil and Leh districts of the Ladakh region since ages. However, much to their despair, the authorities have failed to address their concerns and have turned a blind eye to their plight, leaving them in the lurch as far as basic infrastructure and amenities are concerned.

This Aryan race is known little in the country but is world famous amongst foreign tourists visiting Ladakh, who, till recently, were not permitted to visit these hamlets. Historians claim that the original Aryans or Brokpas were a group of soldiers from Alexander’s army, who lost their way while returning to Greece after the war with people from Baltistan (now in Pakistan).

The Aryans of Ladakh stand out as tall (going up to 6’6"), sharp-featured individuals with big eyes and a fair complexion. They live in small hamlets surrounded by huge rocky mountains in altitudes close to 10,000 feet above sea level. Their abode has a very rugged outlook with many of the houses constructed on rocks and boulders. Docile by nature, they yearn to be part of the scheme of things in the state’s developmental agenda but unfortunately their case has never got due recognition and has failed to find favour with the administration.

"We have been pleading our case with the state government for improvement and uplift of our tribe, but our pleas have fallen on deaf ears" says Tashi Dawa, head of Darchiks village in Kargil district. These people are not very well off financially and their prime source of income is through apricot cultivation as they grow this fruit in plenty. But here again, they are not immensely benefited as there is a ban on exporting fresh fruit outside Ladakh, and this has been the woe of all apricot growers across Ladakh.

These people have been a raw deal by the state government. Due to financial neglect, there has been no development whatsoever, and education for their children has always been ignored. There is no scope of higher education at all as they can just not afford it. There lies only one middle school since 1953 and the villagers of Batallik have been drawing attention of the departments concerned to upgrade the existing school for educational development of their children but once again their requests have gone unanswered. There is no hospital, and at such regions, even appointed doctors just don’t turn up.

Batallik was badly affected during the Kargil war and the Aryan villages were no exception. These people faced heavy losses and damage to their properties. Though there have been good amount of development after the 1999 Indo-Pak Kargil war through projects such as Sadbhawna, this is just a drop in the ocean.

Wrinkled face Padma told this correspondent that "we are being fooled by tall promises by politicians during election campaigning, which are never realised once they come into power. What will happen of us?" She further adds that "there is also a requirement of a full-fledged hospital as we have to travel approximately 65 km through narrow hilly roads, taking almost three-and-a-half hours to travel to the Kargil district hospital."

Ironically, today Aryans feel totally deprived and neglected within their own country whereas they are the study and research subjects for many foreign visitors, especially the Germans. It has been learnt that in 1975 few German women sneaked into these Aryan villages in search of bearing an offspring from this Aryan race as they are considered the original pure ascendants of the Aryans.

Since then there has been a ban on tourism in this sector and tourists were only permitted after a long drawn procedure of obtaining an inner line permit from the DC offices at Leh or Kargil.

As known, Brokpas live in the most interior and remotest part of the Ladakh region. Though they are registered voters in the local Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, no steps have been taken by the council to preserve their culture, which they have continued to safeguard by maintaining traditional rituals and languages.