Leh merchants call for half day shutdown, politicians seek apology from BJP leader
Srinagar, Sep 23: Senior BJP leader and general secretary (organization), Ashok Koul has termed the demand of extension of Sixth Schedule of Constitution for Ladakh as “nonsense.”
People’s Movement for Sixth Schedule for Ladakh, an amalgam of different political parties and socio-religious organizations, had announced its decision to boycott the forthcoming polls held by the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) on Tuesday. The group said that it would boycott the polls until the constitutional safeguard under Sixth Schedule on the lines of Bodo Territorial Council is extended to Ladakh. The BJP is a signatory to the poll boycott statement issued by the organisation and yet Koul has termed the demand as “nonsense.”
Addressing a press conference in Leh, former Lok Sabha MP Thupstan Chewang, who is the chairman of the People’s Movement for Sixth Schedule for Ladakh, said Koul should tender an apology to the people of Ladakh for hurting their sentiments. Chewang said the demand of the Sixth Schedule has been signed and supported by the BJP in Ladakh and Koul should have acted responsibly.
Former LAHDC chairman Rigzin Spalbar claimed that Koul had no locus standi over the issue since he is a non-local. “Everyone in Ladakh are for it. The BJP unit in Ladakh also wants it. Koul has no locus standi over the issue. We are not demanding it for Koul. We are demanding it for ourselves. People of Ladakh are united in this. It is a matter of our future and that of our children,” Spalbar said. Koul was not available for comment.
However, BJP’s Kashmir spokesman Altaf Thakur claimed that the BJP unit in Ladakh had been blackmailed to give into this demand.
The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution makes separate arrangements for tribal areas. Fearing settlements by outsiders in Ladakh after the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A on August 5 last year, people in the region are seeking tribal status to preserve the existing demography of the region. The People’s Movement for Sixth Schedule for Ladakh was formed to press for this demand.
Merchant association Leh calls for half day bandh against Koul’s statement
Meanwhile, the merchant association, Leh, as mark of protest against the statement of BJP leader Ashok Koul has decided to observe half day bandh tomorrow and strongly condemning it terming it as irresponsible.
In statement the association said: “To condemn the unacceptable/irresponsible statement given by Ashok Kaul BJP General Secretary in regards to LAHDC Leh election boycott called by Apex Body Peoples Movement for Sixth Schedule for Ladakh yesterday, Merchant Association Leh in support of Apex Body has decided to observe half day bandh on 24 Sep 2020.”
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), who earlier advised the administration to postpone the LAHDC election in view of the spike in COVID cases in Leh, has also condemned the statement of Ashok Koul.
In a statement the party president said that, “The remarks like ‘Bakwas and nonsense is highly condemnable and it is a very shameful and unacceptable opinion and people of Ladakh will never tolerate such interferences in internal affairs.”
District Congress committee (DCC), leh in a statement issued to KNO also condemned the statement of ashok Koul and said he should take back his words and seek Unconditional apology from the people of Ladakh.
The remarks of BJP, General secretary, Ashok Koul has evoked wide resentment with people including the students body showing serious resentment against it and demanding 6th Schedule for the region besides the complete poll boycott.