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- Context (TH): Ladakh local parties have presented certain demands to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- These include extending the territorial control of Ladakh up to Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Current status of Ladakh
- Ladakh was a part of the Kashmir division of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir.
- It was carved out as one of the Union Territories, the other being Jammu and Kashmir.
- However, unlike the UT of J&K, Ladakh does not have a legislature.
- There are two elected hill councils, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council-Kargil (LAHDC) and LAHDC-Leh.
- Ladakh: Muslim-majority; Leh district: Buddhists; Kargil: Shia Muslims.
- For many decades, Leh supported the demand for UT status.
- However, after the events of 2019, Kargil has been insisting on reunification with Kashmir.
Latest demands of the region
- Demand of legislature: Campaigns for the restoration of Statehood with a legislature are being run.
- Special status: Application of the Sixth Schedule and Article 371 are also on the lines of Mizoram, Tripura, Sikkim and other northeastern States.
- People of Ladakh argue that opening the region to outsiders and outside investment will impact “the most ecologically fragile and sensitive areas.
- Ladakh also demands exclusive rights over recruitment and the constitution of the Ladakh Public Service Commission.
Extension of territorial control
- Prior to 1947, the Ladakh district also comprised the Gilgit-Baltistan area, which is now under Pakistan’s occupation.
- The memorandum highlights the fact and seeks an extension of territorial control up to Gilgit-Baltistan with “attempts to include this area into Ladakh”.
- It demanded the reservation of seats for Gilgit-Baltistan once a legislature was granted to the region.
- Memorandum also demands empowering the locals to foster stability to enhance the foreign policy.
- To discuss the demands, a committee under the Minister of State was constituted.
- Assurance of an appropriate solution to the issues related to language, culture and conservation of land in Ladakh was given.
- After the 2023 protests, a new 17-member committee, including the Ladakh Lieutenant Governor and members from the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) and Leh Apex Body (LAB), was constituted.