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Govt sets up high level panel to address concerns of Ladakh | India News

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday notified the reconstitution of the High-Powered Committee (HPC) constituted to address the issues and concerns of the people of the Ladakh region.

The region has witnessed prolonged agitations since August 2019, after the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and the splitting of the former state into two Union Territories.

This comes after months of back channel negotiations with the Apex Body, Leh (ABL) and the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), and the finalising of the names of those who will be part of the committee. The meeting will take place in New Delhi on December 4.

On January 2, the J&K and Ladakh Division of the MHA had issued the order constituting the HPC to discuss measures to protect Ladakh’s “unique culture and language”, considering its geographical location and strategic importance. Its mandate included “ensuring the protection of land and employment for the people of Ladakh”.

Representatives of both Ladakh and Kargil had in January refused to meet with the Centre owing to a disagreement over the agenda of the meeting, as well as over some of the members that were named by the MHA.

Festive offer

The 15-member committee, chaired by MoS Home Nityanand Rai, now includes eight members from the government. Among them are Lieutenant Governor Brigadier B D Mishra (Retd), Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, chairpersons of the Autonomous Hill Development Councils of both Kargil and Leh, and officials of the MHA.

Both Kargil and Leh districts will be represented by seven members each in the HPC. The members from Leh include Thupstan Tsewang (chairman of Apex Body, Leh, and president of Ladakh Buddhist Association), Chhering Dorje (LBA), Nawang Rigzin Jora (president of Territorial Congress Committee, Ladakh), Abdul Qayum, (president of Anjuman Moin U.l Islam, Leh), and Tsering Wangdus (president of All Ladakh Gonpa Association). Asgar Ali Karbalai (co-chairman of KDA and working president of Territorial Congress Committee, Ladakh), Qamar Ali Akhoon (general secretary of NC, Kargil), Sajjad Kargili (representative of Islamia School, Kargil), and Sheikh Bashir Shakir (representative of IKMT) will be among those from Kargil attending the meeting.

The mandate of the committee includes discussions regarding protection of land and employment for the people of Ladakh, a key issue in the region. The HPC will also discuss measures related to empowerment of LAHDCs and “examine constitutional safeguards that could be provided to ensure the measures and protection detailed above”.

The organisations leading the protests – the ABL and the KDA – had earlier sought the inclusion of a four-point agenda in the mandate of the committee before agreeing to a meeting. This included statehood for Ladakh, safeguards under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, reservation of jobs for the youth of Ladakh, and the creation of separate parliamentary constituencies for the two parts of the region.

These demands are largely driving the agitations in the region, and the ABL and the KDA both wanted these included in the charter of the HPC. Sources involved in discussions with the groups told The Indian Express that for the Centre, “anything short of a sixth schedule is on the table”, and that the Centre is keen on taking the discussions forward with the groups to address resentment in the region.

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