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Union Ministry Directs LAB, KDA to Draft Comprehensive Demands Document

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SRINAGAR: The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has instructed the Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) to create a comprehensive document outlining their demands, including potential options, The Daily Excelsior reported.

This document is expected to be submitted during the upcoming meeting in New Delhi following the ongoing winter session of Parliament. The MHA, in its assurance, stated that a delegation led by Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, alongside Home Secretary AK Bhalla and senior officers, will visit Ladakh after the said meeting.

“The Union Home Ministry has asked the LAB and KDA to come up with a comprehensive document on their demands,” said Apex Body Chairman and Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) president Thupstan Chhewang, while speaking to The Daily Excelsior. “We will submit the document at the meeting.”

The LAB and KDA are set to collaborate in drafting the document, with ongoing discussions focusing on key inclusions. The agenda, largely unchanged from the MHA’s release for the December 4 meeting, did not specifically address the Statehood discussion for Ladakh, despite the representation of this demand by Ladakh’s representatives.

“In such a scenario, some of the Ladakh representatives are coming around the view that instead of asking for Statehood which the Union Home Ministry is not even ready to discuss, they should ask for Legislature within the UT but continue the struggle for Statehood like some of the parties are doing in Jammu and Kashmir,” stated insiders as per the report in The Daily Excelsior.

Amid discussions, Ladakh representatives are contemplating redirecting their efforts towards a Legislature within the UT, acknowledging the Union Home Ministry’s reluctance to discuss Statehood. They intend to continue the struggle for Statehood, mirroring the approach adopted by certain parties in Jammu and Kashmir.

In contrast, regarding the demand for the Sixth Schedule for Ladakh, the LAB and KDA are determined to maintain their stance. Despite the Home Ministry’s suggestion to explore alternatives, they remain committed to the Sixth Schedule as a means to safeguard Ladakhis’ rights concerning land, culture, and identity.

“The LAB and KDA will stick to [the demand for] Sixth Schedule,” sources confirmed.

Chairman of the Apex Body and Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) President Thupstan Chhewang confirmed that the LAB and KDA have received instructions from the Union Home Ministry to formulate a comprehensive document, to be finalized before the next meeting of the High Powered Committee chaired by Nityanand Rai.

“The meeting is scheduled to be held after the winter session of the Parliament,” Chhewang said. “We are drafting the document, and it will be finalized in a joint meeting of the LAB and KDA before the MHA calls the next meeting.”

The Union Home Ministry officials have additionally conveyed that MoS Home Nityanand Rai, Home Secretary AK Bhalla, and other senior officers will visit Leh and Kargil in Ladakh after the meeting to engage with the local population.

“The LAB and KDA have been asked by the Union Home Ministry to come up with a comprehensive document on their demands,” reiterated Thupstan Chhewang. “We will submit the document at the meeting.”

While the MHA may make announcements during the visit, the prospect of Statehood has been ruled out. Regarding the demand for two Parliamentary seats for Ladakh, it is indicated that this can only be considered after 2026 due to the frozen delimitation of constituencies until then.

“It can be done only after 2026 as the delimitation of constituencies has been frozen till then,” sources explained regarding the demand for two Parliamentary seats.

It is noteworthy that the BJP is not directly affiliated with LAB and KDA. However, its Lok Sabha member from Ladakh, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, is a member of the High Powered Committee led by Nityanand Rai. CEC-cum-Chairperson Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council Tashi Gyalson, also associated with BJP, is part of the HPC. Sources suggest that significant announcements related to the Union Territory of Ladakh are anticipated from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs before the Model Code of Conduct for Lok Sabha elections is implemented in March next year.

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