Srinagar: With very few educational institutions set up in Kargil district of Ladakh, Narendra Modi led government has once again ignored Kargil and proposed to establish a Central University of Ladakh in Leh district thus pushing the people of Kargil to the wall of despair.
Ladakh which comprises two districts Leh and Kargil, is now being recognised as a separate Union territory after the abrogation of article 370.
It was a long pending demand of people of Kargil that a Central University should be established in Kargil district so that students can have respite from travelling to Srinagar for higher studies, rather than to Leh.
Students of Kargil prefer to pursue their higher studies from Kashmir because the distance between Kargil and Kashmir is 202 KMs while from Kargil to Leh is 217 KMs.
However, the government rather than setting University in Kargil on February 1 said in Budget session 2021 that central University of Ladakh will be set up in Leh district.
On August 05, 2019, the government of India unilaterally scrapped the autonomous status of J&K gauranteed under Article 370 and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories, Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh.
Following the government’s decision, there were widespread protests in Kargil, the Muslim majority district of Ladakh region, alleging discrimination.
Political activists in Kargil welcomed the decision of establishing Central University in Ladakh but said that they were expecting that the government would set up the campus in Kargil district because it was the demand of the people of Kargil.
“It is not the first time that government has showed step-motherly behaviour towards Kargil, but people of Kargil have been facing discrimination over the years. Our students prefer to pursue their higher education either from Kashmir or outside JK mainly for two reasons. First is that Srinagar is less distant from Leh and second is that Srinagar is far better than Leh in terms of infrastructure and wide range of courses available,” Social activist Sajad Kargili told Free Press Kashmir.
He said that there are very few degree colleges in Kargil with poor infrastructure and limited number of courses available for students.
“In Kargil there is a demand for degree colleges in Sanko, Chiktan for many years and demand for womens Degree College in Kargil town because there is no degree college for women in Kargil, but nothing has been done to meet the demands of people,” he said.
A student and a resident of Kargil said that even though Kargil district is spread over more than 14,000 square kilometers with 1.5 Lakh of population, the government has given very less attention towards this district.
“They have given a medical college and cricket academy to Leh. And the Ladakh Affairs Department [an administrative unit which oversees all matters pertaining to the two districts] has also been shifted to Leh. Kargil can be a good tourist destination but the government has done nothing to promote the tourism sector in Kargil as compared to Leh,” he noted, wishing anonymity.
JK Students Association Spokesperson, Nasir Khuehami said that Kargil has been facing injustice and discrimination in terms of development and resources in the region.
“Central University demanded by Kargil has been proposed to be set up in Leh. We want equal distribution of resources between Leh & Kargil. The office of L-G is in Leh. The administrative secretary’s office too is in Leh. Deemed University is in Leh, Research centres are in Leh. Regional Passport Office is in Leh and now Central University has also been given to Leh. Then what is there for Kargil?” Nasir stressed.
He continues to say that post abrogation of article 370, no promises made by Narendra Modi led government to the people of Kargil have been kept.
“Sab ka Saath Sab Ka Viskas… Where is that Vikas that was promised to the people of Kargil? Is it that people of Kargil are being discriminated because there have protested against unconstitutional move of abrogating article 370 and bifurcating J&K state into two UTs?” Nasir asked.
BJP vice president of Ladakh, Mohammad Ali Majaz claimed that no discrimination is been done with Kargil, “it is just in the minds of people”.
“The University is not only for Leh but for the entire Ladakh UT. It is not that only people of Leh will be benefited from this University. This is not a matter of distance, there is a difference of only 15 kms. This is just the beginning and more institutions will come to Ladakh. There is nothing like discrimination with the Kargil,” he said.
Free Press Kashmir tried to reach to Ladakh Member Parliament, Tsering Namgyal but he was not available for comments.