Centre Calls LAB, KDA for Talks to Discuss All Issues

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*LG, MP, CECs from Ladakh to be present in meeting

NEW DELHI, Oct 30: In an attempt to find a solution of pending issues in the frontier region of Ladakh, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has invited a delegation of Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) for talks in New Delhi.

The central government appears to have conceded their major demand that all issues would be discussed at the meeting scheduled to be held in the first half of November to be chaired by Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, who has been appointed as the Chairman of the High Powered Committee (HPC).

Confirming that the MHA has expressed readiness to discuss all issues, LAB Chairman Thupstan Chhewang told some newspersons that both the organizations have accepted the invitation and will finalize seven names each from LAB and KDA, totalling 14, by Tuesday morning, who will go for talks on their behalf with the MHA’s HPC.

Besides 14 members from LAB and KDA, Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh Brig (Retd) B D Mishra, BJP Lok Sabha Member from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgyal and both Chairpersons-cum-CECs of Hill Development Councils, Leh and Kargil have also been called to the meeting.
Besides Union MoS Home Nityanand Rai, the HPC also has senior MHA officials Incharge Ladakh division.

“We will go to the meeting as our major demand that all issues should be discussed at the meeting has been accepted by the Union Home Ministry. Though the MHA hasn’t specifically mentioned discussion on grant of Sixth Schedule status and Statehood to Ladakh, they have said all issues can be discussed. So, we will attend,” Chhewang said, adding that it will be a 14-member delegation of LAB and KDA which will go for the talks from the two bodies.

Four-point agenda of the LAB and KDA include grant of Sixth Schedule status and Statehood for Ladakh, two Lok Sabha seats – one each for Leh and Kargil – and job opportunities for the locals.

Leaders from both the organizations have also demanded a constitution of the Public Service Commission (PSC) for Ladakh but said if it can’t be constituted, Ladakh should be included in the PSC of J&K on the pattern of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court.

However, they have also demanded that the Ladakh Resident Certificate (LRC) should be made mandatory for all kinds of recruitments.

Previously, a meeting of the High Powered Committee was held in New Delhi on June 19 after which the LAB and KDA had decided that they will attend the next meeting only if their demands are included on the agenda for the talks.

Though the Central Government had earlier ruled out Statehood for Ladakh but now the MHA has briefed LAB that all issues can be discussed in the forthcoming meeting, the reliable sources said, adding this has prompted LAB and KDA to accept the invitation for talks.

After June 19 talks, another meeting of the HPC was delayed due to the visit of Tibetan Spiritual Leader The Dalai Lama to Ladakh for nearly one and a half month followed by elections to the Kargil Hill Development Council.

The LAB and KDA leaders appear to be confident that the Central Government especially the Union Home Ministry which has been dealing with issues of Ladakh through Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai will take a favourable view of all issues.

Indian Lok Sabha elections are due in next six months now. The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) had won the Ladakh Lok Sabha seat, which is the only constituency in the Union Territory, for two consecutive terms in 2014 and 2019. In 2014, Thupstan Chhewang, who now heads LAB as well as Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA), won the seat for BJP while in 2019, Jamyang Tsering Namgayal retained the seat for the party.

In the last meeting held in New Delhi, Union MoS Home Nityanand Rai and the top MHA officials listened to issues raised by LAB and KDA and assured that the talks will go on and the High Powered Committee (HPC) meeting will be called.

Both the organizations LAB and KDA earlier had reservations over the HPC which is headed by Nityanand Rai was constituted by the MHA in January this year.

The MHA agreed that representatives of LAB and KDA will be equal and finalized by the organizations themselves.