Why is Ladakh Protesting, demanding Statehood and the 6th Schedule?

23 Mar 2024  Read 1731 Views

Ladakh, which has more than 97% of the tribal population, protesting and renting "Bahaal karo, bahaal karo (restore, restore)", "Leh Chalo". This is not the first time Ladakh has seen protests about becoming a state and protecting its identity, but this recent one is among the largest since 2019.

The timing of the protest is significant because it's happening just a few months ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election and in a year when there will likely be State Assembly Elections in Jammu and Kashmir after 10 years. This blog will explain everything about the ongoing Ladakh protest in a way that's easy to understand.

Background

  • After Article 370 was removed, Jammu and Kashmir was split into two Union Territories in August 2019: Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
  • Since Ladakh became a UT, people in the region have been asking for more control over their affairs and to protect their cultural and demographic identity.

Origin of Protest

  • From 2002-2003, the Leh district in Ladakh demanded Union Territory status. They feel like the governments in Jammu and Kashmir have not paid enough attention to their needs.
  • Ladakh, which often felt controlled by politicians from J&K, viewed the split of J&K as a step towards more independence.
  • However, the reorganisation of the state of J&K gave the UT of Jammu and Kashmir an Assembly like Puducherry. While, the UT of Ladakh is controlled directly by the Lieutenant Governor (i.e. without an Assembly) like Chandigarh.
  • Many people thought this would make Ladakh less able to negotiate with the government towards their needs.

What are the reasons behind the protests in Ladakh?

  • People in Ladakh are concerned about losing their unique identity resources and facing too much government control. 
  • They worry that allowing non-local residents and businesses into the area could change the population and erase their distinct culture and identity.
  • Before becoming UT, Ladakh had representation in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly. Now, without political representation, locals are struggling with their demands.

What are the demands of the protesters in Ladakh?

Ladakhis have four major demands:

  1. Statehood for Ladakh: Making Ladakh a full-fledged state, giving it more power to make its own decisions and run its affairs independently from the central government.
  2. Inclusion in  VI Schedule: Legal protections in the 6th Schedule safeguard the cultural, language, and land rights since 80% of Ladakh's population are tribal people.
  3. Job Reservations for locals: Fair chances for young people in Ladakh to get jobs and access economic opportunities. Also, a Public Service Commission is to be established in the area.
  4. Separate Parliamentary Constituency: Establish separate parliamentary constituencies for Leh and Kargi districts, which match the unique features of each place, like population and geography.

Read- Special Status of J&K - Removal of Articles 370 & 35A of Indian Constitution

Reasons behind the demand for Statehood for Ladakh

Statehood for Ladakh means that Ladakh would have its own legislative assembly, which can make laws specifically for the region. It means a solid political system to handle its unique needs and problems

This change would give the local people more influence in making decisions impacting their daily lives and jobs. Also, it would improve how the government works by making it more organised and responsive.

Ladakh's demand for Implementation of the 6th Schedule of the Constitution

What is the 6th Schedule of the Constitution?

It ensures that tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram are managed properly to protect the rights of tribal people in these states.

This Schedule is based on:- 

Article 244(2)- "The provisions of the Sixth Schedule shall apply to the administration of the tribal areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram."

Article 275(1) of the Indian Constitution promises yearly financial help from India's main fund (i.e., Consolidated Fund) to support the well-being of Scheduled Tribes.

Ladakh Protest, 6th Schedule

What are Autonomous District Councils?

The 6th Schedule was enacted to help and safeguard the native and tribal communities by setting up self-governing district areas called Autonomous District Councils or ADCs.

District and regional councils have legislative and judicial powers to make laws and handle legal matters, although the respective High Courts oversee them.

ADCs can set up courts to deal with cases involving tribal members that result in sentences of less than 5 years.

ADCs can collect taxes, fees, and tolls from various businesses and activities within their control area.

Who is leading the protest in Ladakh?

  1. The Buddhist-majority Leh and Muslim-majority Kargil,
  2. The Leh Apex Body (LAB) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA),
  3. Climate activist Sonam Wangchuk
  4. Even Ladakh's only MP, BJP's Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, urged the Centre to protect the UT's land, employment and cultural identity.

What has the Govt. done so far?

Sensing the issue before the Lok Sabha election 2024 last year, the Union Home Ministry created a committee of 17 people led by Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai to examine the complaints.

In December 2023, the committee had its first meeting with people from Leh and Kargil, promising "constitutional safeguards" for the UT.

Union Home Minister responded: 

  • Protections under Article 371 but not full autonomy in the Sixth Schedule
  • Representation and participation through local district councils.
  • Protection for jobs, land, and cultural traditions.

Conclusion

Democratic representation in Ladakh is very important for India's security plans. When the people of Ladakh can speak up and be part of decisions, especially about employment, security and how other things function, it helps them feel more involved in protecting their region and culture.

About the Author: Anirudh Nikhare | 29 Post(s)

Anirudh did his Bachelor's in Law and has practical experience in IPR, Contracts, and Corporate. He is your go-to legal content writer turning head-scratching legal topics into easy-to-understand gems of wisdom. Through his blog, he aims to empower readers with knowledge, making legal concepts digestible and applicable to everyday life.

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