Ladakh’s unrest


  • Recently thousands returned to Leh’s streets in sub-zero temperatures demanding full Statehood for Ladakh and also inclusion in the Sixth Schedule to safeguard land, culture, language, and environment.
  • The ‘Leh Chalo’ protest led by Leh Apex Body (LAB) and also by the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) resulted in a shutdown.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) set a date for the second round of discussions for the same.

Why has Ladakh turned to protests?

  • Ladakh has experienced multiple shutdowns which are marked by frequent street protests and demonstrations over the past four years after the region was carved out of Jammu and Kashmir as a separate UT.
  • The reorganisation led to concerns among locals about the loss of identity, resources and bureaucratic overreach.
  • The growing resentment among the people can be traced to August 2019 when the dilution of Article 370 abrogated the special status of the erstwhile State of J&K.
  • Ladakh which was then one of three divisions of J&K, was established as a UT without a legislature opposite to J&K which has a legislature.
  • Ladakh had been represented by four members in the J&K Assembly and two in the Legislative Council before the abrogation of the article 370.
  • The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils of Leh and Kargil which is formed to administer the region, also have limited powers.

The response by the Ladakhis after reorganization:

  • Initially, there was optimism as religious minorities in the Ladakh region had for long supported the demand for UT status, alleging discrimination at the hands of Kashmir-centric parties.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi also asserted that a new era had begun in Ladakh.
  • The jubilation, especially in Leh, however, soon gave way to caution, uneasiness and also anger.
  • Ladakhis worried that opening up the region to non-locals and industrialists would impact the region’s demography, eventually leading to the alienation and loss of distinct identity among the locals.
  • A jobs crisis and lack of political representation added to the already present unrest.
  • Civil society and religious outfits in Leh also felt vulnerable with the reorganisation taking away the protection which is enshrined under Article 35A.

Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019:

  • It is an act of the parliament of India which contains provisions to reconstitute the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Indian-administered union territories (UTs) called Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
  • The act consists of 103 clauses, extends 106 central laws to the UTs, repeals 153 state laws, and also abolishes the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council among other things.
  • The introduction of the Jammu and Kashmir reorganization bill was preceded by a presidential order which indirectly amended Article 370 of the Indian constitution and revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
  • The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act divides the Indian-administered state into two Indian-administered union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
  • Jammu and Kashmir is supposed to have legislative assembly, the latter, Ladakh, will be administered by a lieutenant governor alone.
  • The union territory of Ladakh will include the districts of Lehand Kargil, while all other districts will be accorded to the ut OF Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Of six Lok Sabha seats allocated to the former state, one will be allocated to Ladakh and remaining five to the Jammu and Kashmir union territory.
  • The High Court of the Jammu and Kashmir will function as the High Court for both the union territories.

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