Ladakh is known as a jewel in the crown of India. But for the past few months, the people of Ladakh have been protesting and demanding complete statehood. On February 3, 2024, a huge crowd of Ladakhi people organized a march in Leh and called for a complete shutdown in the state.
Amidst a growing consciousness surrounding the safeguarding of Ladakh’s distinct heritage and identity, there’s a collective push for its elevation to full statehood. The “Leh Chalo” protest was jointly initiated by the Leh Apex Body (LAB) and the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA).
Since the revocation of Article 370, Ladakh has been embroiled in demonstrations advocating for statehood and the preservation of its cultural identity. Despite being under the governance of Lt. Governor Dr. B.D. Mishra, who has remained largely passive amidst the turmoil, the calls for statehood have persisted.
What is the Complete Statehood Demand of Ladakh?
Ladakh stands as one of India’s eight union territories, nestled amidst the Karakoram and Himalayan Ranges. It comprises two principal districts: Leh and Kargil, with Leh ranking as India’s second-largest district.
While the Kargil district is predominantly inhabited by Muslims, Leh boasts a Buddhist majority, earning it the moniker “Mini Tibet.” Following the repeal of Article 370, the people of Ladakh are advocating for full statehood, discontented with its current union territory status.
Leading the charge are prominent groups such as the Leh Apex Body (LAB) and the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), with the notable addition of Sonam Wangchuk, a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, bolstering the protests.
Despite assurances from the Government of India, Ladakh awaits inclusion in the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. While Jammu and Kashmir possess a state legislature (Vidhan Sabha), Ladakh lacks similar legislative representation. Instead, it relies on two hill councils—LAHDC-Kargil and LAHDC-Leh—which wield limited authority.
What are the demands of the people of Ladakh?
- The inhabitants of Ladakh are advocating for full statehood to safeguard their cultural heritage and identity.
- People of Ladakh are pressing for preferential treatment in government positions to ensure that locals, who possess intimate knowledge of the region, are prioritized over outsiders.
- Given Ladakh’s fragile environmental status, its residents are emphasizing the need to protect their surroundings. They seek to regulate external investments to ensure that such endeavors contribute positively to Ladakh’s ecosystem rather than causing harm.
- The people of Ladakh are urging India to assert sovereignty over the Gilgit-Baltistan region, currently under illegal occupation by Pakistan.