As talks fail with GoI, Ladakh observes shutdown over statehood, 6th schedule demands

Protest rally in Leh on February 3, 2024. [Photo: X/ Sajjad Kargili]

Ladakh: A complete shutdown is being observed in Leh as the deadlock between the government of India and leaders of civil society groups of Ladakh over granting status of the Sixth Schedule in the Constitution and statehood to the cold desert region continues.

Two days after the sub-committee, consisting of leaders from Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), found their meeting with Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) officials in New Delhi inconclusive, a bandh was observed in Leh.

This collective action follows the call made by the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) and Leh Apex Body (LAB), two conglomerates representing diverse political, social, religious, and student organizations in Ladakh.

The joint call aims to advocate for four key demands: Statehood for Ladakh, Constitutional Safeguards under the Sixth Schedule, a Public Service Commission (PSC) for Ladakh, an expedited job recruitment process, and the establishment of two separate parliamentary seats for Leh and Kargil.

The bandh took place in Leh, marked by a rally at NDS Stadium where members from various religious and political organizations participated. Tsering Dorjay Lakrook from Leh Apex Body and prominent environmentalist Sonam Wangchuk addressed the gathering, which saw the participation of thousands of men and women. The rally concluded with a hunger strike led by Sonam Wangchuk.

LAB and KDA leaders, currently in New Delhi, are expected to return to Ladakh shortly. They have declared their intention to engage with the local population to discuss the future course of action after talks failed to make any headway.

Over the past two years, LAB and KDA leaders have participated in a series of meetings with the Home Ministry of India, focusing on a four-point agenda that includes Statehood, the Sixth Schedule, the establishment of a Public Services Commission, and the allocation of two Parliamentary seats for Ladakh.

Ladakh became a UT on August 5, 2019, after Article 370 was abrogated and Jammu and Kashmir was divided into two UTs of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.

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