Ladakhi Buddhist demand freedom from Kashmir

It was for the first time that the Ladakhi Buddhists demanded trifurcation of the state and this must make the BJP leadership at the centre sit up and devise a scheme

Ladakhi Buddhist demand freedom from Kashmir
Ladakhi Buddhist demand freedom from Kashmir

The only trifurcation of the state can resolve all issues confronting the three regions…Free Ladakh from Kashmir

The BJP created a history of sorts in May 2014 by winning the Lone Ladakh Lok Sabha seat. Thupstan Chhewang, its candidate and son-in-law of Queen of Ladakh, Rani Parvati, defeated the Congress rebel candidate, Ghulam Raza. Chhewang won with a slender margin of 36 votes. But it was a splendid victory of the BJP by any standard in the sense that it had never won any election in the cold-desert region before 2014. The BJP could win Ladakh because it contested the election on the Union-Territory-for-Ladakh plank. The BJP had told Ladakhis that it would grant UT status to the region “within six months”. The BJP had, in addition, held out many other solemn promises. It had, inter-alia, promised inclusion of Bhoti language in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution and the opening of Kailash Mansarovar road via Ladakh.

It was then hoped that the BJP, which was in power at the centre and sharing power in the state with the PDP of the Muftis, would take all the necessary steps to honour its UT commitment, but it didn’t happen

Just six months later (December), the Buddhists rejected the BJP outright. It could not win even one out of the 4 assembly seats. It was the Congress which won 3 seats and the remaining fourth seat was won by an independent candidate. The BJP lost the elections in Ladakh because it abandoned the UT status plank. Another factor that failed the BJP in motivating the Ladakhis to vote for it was its changed stand on Article 370. As a matter of fact, the BJP abandoned its age-old stand on Article 370 in November 2014 after one Kashmiri woman, Hina Bhat, threatened that she would pick up a gun in case the BJP tinkered with this Article under which the state enjoyed special status within the Union on the score of religion. Hina Bhat had joined the BJP only a month ago. The mind-boggling U-turn of the BJP on Article 370 had its impact on the electoral scene of Jammu province as well. The BJP did create history by winning 25 out of 37 assembly seats but its vote-share fell drastically. In the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had got 32.5 per cent votes in J&K, but in the Assembly elections, its vote share came down to just 23 per cent. As was expected, the BJP failed to open its account in Kashmir. All but one BJP candidates forfeited their security deposits, notwithstanding the fact that the BJP had murdered its age-old ideology to woo Kashmiri Muslims.

Convinced that Ladakhi Buddhists would not vote for it in case it didn’t support their age-old demand seeking UT for their Trans-Himalayan region, the BJP refashioned its whole strategy during the October 2015 Leh Autonomous Hill Council Development Elections. In effect, it contested the council elections on the UT plank and turned tables on the Congress. The BJP won 18 out of 26 seats and captured the Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council for the first time. Indeed, it was a great victory of the BJP.

It was then hoped that the BJP, which was in power at the centre and sharing power in the state with the PDP of the Muftis, would take all the necessary steps to honour its UT commitment, but it didn’t happen. What happened was to the contrary. It only danced to the tunes of the Muftis and left the Ladakhis in the lurch. The result was that it became highly unpopular in the region. The nature of its unpopularity in the region could be gauged from the fact that it failed to win even one out of 26 wards during the October-November Urban Local Bodies’ polls. Undoubtedly, it was humiliating for the BJP.

The complete rout of the BJP and victory of the Congress on an unprecedented scale in the region changed the whole Ladakhi scene with local BJP leaders tearing into the top BJP leaders based in Jammu and BJP national general secretary and in-charge J&K Ram Madhav.

The first to raise the banner of revolt against the BJP was none other than MP Thupstan Chhewang. On November 19, he resigned both from the party and Lok Sabha. In fact, he wrote a letter to PM Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah in which he referred to the assurance made by the Central party leadership for grant of UT status to Ladakh “within six months” during 2014 Lok Sabha elections and inclusion of Bhoti language in 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution saying “both the assurances weren’t fulfilled though he repeatedly took up them with the Central leaders as well as party forums”. Chhewang attacked Ram Madhav and J&K BJP chief Ravinder Raina for letting down the people of Ladakh.

The worst aspect of the whole situation has been that New Delhi has always backed the Kashmiri Muslim leaders

“Our leaders never cared to logically explain the reasons for the delay in executing our electoral assurances…BJP general secretary, Ram Madhav, in-charge Jammu and Kashmir and State party leadership…made the matters worse by repeatedly rubbing salt on the wounds of Ladakh. All of their actions were thoughtless,” Thupstan, among other things, wrote.

The operative part of his letter read like this: “As a local representative my position increasingly became morally and politically untenable with the party and the central leaders exhibiting little concern for implementing solemn assurance given at the time of 2014 elections that the demand of Ladakh region for a Union Territory status would be met within six months. We exposed ourselves to the charge of making false promises even on such sentimental issues as the inclusion of the Bhoti language in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution and, hence, my resignation from the party and Lok Sabha”.

That the Ladakhi BJP leaders were in a fighting mode became further clear on December 5, when they demanded trifurcation of the state into Jammu, Kashmir and the Ladakh States, saying such a division of the state alone could end the woes of the people of Jammu and Ladakh.

“Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir are three geographically distinct regions having different aspirations. There is no single solution to end the crisis in the state except trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir as it will fulfil the desires of all regions. The only trifurcation of the state can resolve all issues confronting the three regions…Free Ladakh from Kashmir,” said former minister and BJP MLC Chhering Dorjey while addressing media persons at Leh. Prominent among others, who also spoke and demanded trifurcation of the state, including Chief Executive Councillor (CEC) of the Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, and many other councillors.

It was for the first time that the Ladakhi Buddhists demanded trifurcation of the state and this must make the BJP leadership at the centre sit up and devise a scheme that ends their alienation from the BJP and induces them to swing solidly behind it. The best course is to meet their demand and de-link Jammu and Ladakh from the now 100 per cent radicalized Muslim Kashmir. Even otherwise, such a reorganization of the state has become imperative given the fact that Kashmiri Muslim leaders, without any exception, hate the Indian Constitution, despite the Indian laws and denounce the Indian institutions and treat Jammu and Ladakh as the Kashmir’s two colonies. It needs to be underlined that these Kashmiri leaders have rendered the people of Jammu and Ladakh unreal and ineffective for all practical purposes. The worst aspect of the whole situation has been that New Delhi has always backed the Kashmiri Muslim leaders to the hilt and virtually told the people of Jammu and Ladakh that they have no other option but to groan under the yoke of intolerant, oppressive and discriminatory Kashmiri Muslim rule.

Note:
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Hari Om
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4 COMMENTS

  1. After accomplishment of Mission 272 in 2014 BJP won 282.
    BJP has been on election mode for three years. BJP wins elections on emotive issues and goes into sleep mode. Now its strength is 270 ! In 2019 it is possible that none trust BJP leaders words.

  2. what about Kashmir Pandits’ demand for panun Kashmir? Where and how the plight of Kashmir pandits’ could get solved without a state for their own?

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