J&K – The issues around the state

Issues in Ladakh after abolition of Art. 370

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Autonomous districts, Sixth Schedule

Mains level : Issues after reorganization of Jammu Kashmir

When Jammu and Kashmir were bifurcated into two UTs, Ladakh was seen welcoming the reorganization. However, different demands are coming from its two districts of Ladakh, Leh and Kargil.

Leh and Kargil, not alike

  • The leaders from Kargil demanded that the district should remain part of J&K.
  • The Leh-based Ladakh Buddhist Association has put forth its demand for an autonomous hill council under the Sixth Schedule, modelled on the lines of the Bodoland Territorial Council in Assam.
  • But what Leh leaders did not bargain for was the complete loss of legislative powers.
  • Earlier, the two districts each sent four representatives to the J&K legislature. After the changes, they were down to one legislator — their sole MP— with all powers vested in the UT bureaucracy.
  • Unlike the UT of J&K, Ladakh was a UT without an assembly.

What are their concerns?

  • What both Ladakh districts fear is the alienation of land, loss of identity, culture, language, and change in demography.
  • They fear that it will follow their political disempowerment.

Hill Development Councils

  • Leh and Kargil have separate Autonomous Hill Development Councils, set up under the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils Act, 1997.
  • However, the AHDCs have no legislative powers.
  • The councils are elected and have executive powers over the allotment, use and occupation of land vested in them by the Centre, and the powers to collect some local taxes, such as parking fees, taxes on shops etc.
  • But the real powers are now wielded by the UT administration, which is seen as even more remote than the erstwhile state government of J&K.

What is the sixth schedule?

  • The Sixth Schedule is a provision of Article 244(A) of the Constitution, originally meant for the creation of autonomous tribal regions in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.
  • Hill councils under this provision have legislative powers.

Evolving demands

  • But with no progress on Leh’s demand for Sixth Schedule protections, the Leh leadership has now upped its demands.
  • Other issues under discussion are protections for language, culture, land and jobs, plus a long-standing demand for a route between Kargil and Skardu in territory under Pakistan in Gilgit- Baltistan.
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