Thousands of men and women marched in the main city of Leh in the bitter cold, raising chants demanding statehood for Ladakh and the implementation of the sixth schedule of the Constitution.
The shutdown in the region was called by the Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA).
Significantly, the central government has already constituted a high-level committee led by Union Minister of State for Home, Nityanand Rai, to protect the unique culture and language of Ladakh.
The legal Adviser of Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance, Haji Ghulam Mustafa, told CNI that all powers that were people-centric have weakened and the region has no representation in the Assembly.
“Ever since Ladakh became a UT, the apex body and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) put forward a four-point agenda. All our powers which were people-centric have weakened. When we were a part of Jammu and Kashmir, we had four members in the Assembly and two in the legislative council. Now we have no representation in the Assembly. It has always been our demand that the people of Ladakh should have representation in the Assembly and that we should get statehood. The reason is that Ladakh is, strategically, a very important place,” he said.
“This is a tribal majority area and has all the features that states in the Northeast have. Further, along the lines of Northeast states, we demand that the provisions of the 6th schedule be implemented in Ladakh to protect its culture. Ever since Ladakh became a UT, there have been no gazetted job openings in the region while in J-K, two batches have already been commissioned and the third batch will be commissioned soon. Ladakh urgently needs a Public Service Commission of its own. People here are observing a total shutdown today. This is to send a message to the power corridors in Delhi that the people of Ladakh demand empowerment of the region,” he added.
After the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, Jammu and Kashmir was split into two Union Territories–Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh.