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Posted at: Aug 6, 2019, 7:27 AM; last updated: Aug 6, 2019, 8:50 AM (IST)

Dream of freeing Ladakh from Kashmir comes true: Leaders

However, Kargil politicians oppose bifurcation of state | Say decision taken without consulting stakeholders, compromises on state’s identity

Arteev Sharma
Tribune News Service
JAMMU, August 5

Frenzied celebrations erupted in Ladakh region, the cold desert of the country, immediately after the Centre introduced a draft resolution to grant it separate Union Territory (UT) status—a demand being made since 1949.

The overjoyed Ladakhi leaders, irrespective of their political affiliations, said “It is virtually a dream come true for us,” and that the Modi-led Central Government had turned “impossible” into “a reality to free Ladakh from Kashmir”.

The move, however, evoked a sharp reaction from Shia Muslim-dominated Kargil district, where the leaders of the community described the decision as “unconstitutional and unilateral”.

Meanwhile, PT Kunzang, president of Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA), a frontline body spearheading the struggle for UT status, said “A wave of joy has swept the entire Ladakh region. UT status was the core demand and top priority for us since 1949. We had been fighting to free Ladakh from Kashmir and we have finally achieved it. The Prime Minister and his government deserve all appreciations”.

The LBA chief the grant of UT status to Ladakh will set off “a new era of development and prosperity” in the region, which was discriminated against for the past 70 years.

Rigzin Spalbar, former chief executive councillor and senior Congress leader, said “Finally, Ladakhis have achieved what was virtually impossible for them. Let’s relish and celebrate it. Though the UT has been announced without separate legislature, this issue will be taken up later. This is the time to celebrate our freedom from Kashmir”.

On the contrary, Kargil representatives were miffed over the Centre’s decision of dividing J&K state into two UTs. They alleged that it had abolished “J&K’s own identity and existence”.

“The decision is unconstitutional and undemocratic, which needs to be reviewed immediately. The way the three former chief ministers of the state were locked inside their houses, it was the darkest day for the state. It is not in the larger interests of the state,” said Sajjad Kargili, the runner-up from Ladakh seat in the recently held Lok Sabha elections.

Asgar Ali Karbalaie, former Congress MLA from Kargil, said “The decision of the Centre to reduce statehood to Union Territory without consulting the people and stakeholders is unconstitutional, undemocratic and it needs to be condemned by one and all. No opinion was sought from anyone. We will fight against this decision”.

The National Conference leaders of Kargil unit also condemned the scrapping of Article 370 in an “illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional way”.

In a meeting under the leadership of district president Haji Hanifa Jan, the party showed resentment against the bifurcation and disintegration of the state. “The scheme of UT is unacceptable to the people of Ladakh in general and Kargil in particular,” it said.


Voices

Finally, Ladakhis have achieved what was virtually impossible for them. Let’s relish and celebrate it. Though the UT has been announced without separate legislature, this issue will be taken up later. This is the time to celebrate our freedom from Kashmir — Rigzin Spalbar, former chief executive councillor and senior Congress leader

The decision is unconstitutional and undemocratic, which needs to be reviewed immediately. The way the three former chief ministers of the state were locked inside their houses, it was the darkest day for the state. It is not in the larger interests of the state — Sajjad Kargili, runner-up from Ladakh seat in the recent Lok Sabha elections 

Article 35A is not only unconstitutional but also an inhuman clause which is the main hurdle in solving our basic issues — Labha Ram Gandhi, leader of west Pakistan refugees

This action of the Union Government has liberated us from decades-old slavery as the so-called special status of J&K has debarred highly qualified youths of our community from getting respectable government jobs except the job of sweepers — Radhika, member of valmiki community

For the last 35 years, we have been agitating to get reservation, which our community members are getting in other parts of the country, but due to Article 370, the same was denied to us — Shamsher Singh, an obc leader

Today’s move has cleared hurdles for grant of political reservation to STs. Successive state governments had deprived STs of their constitutional rights — Ghulam Ali Khatana, a Gujjar leader

The decision of the Union Government will have strong repercussions. Union territories are demanding statehood and our state has been bifurcated to create union territories. This is a  politically motivated decision of the BJP-led government — Shuhab Butt, PDP district president, Doda

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