- Centre created separate Ladakh division with Leh as its headquarters
- Protesters want 6-month rotation of offices between Leh and Kargil
- Thousands stepped out into the freezing cold to rally against the move
Creating a separate administrative division for Ladakh with its headquarters at Leh is backfiring on the centre. Two days after the government issued the controversial order, thousands of Kargil residents marched in the bone-chilling cold to demand that the decision be reviewed immediately. They have refused to be part of the newly created division unless there is six-month rotation of offices between Leh and Kargil.
According to the order, the administration has sanctioned the creation of a separate administrative and revenue division comprising Leh and Kargil districts with its headquarters at Leh. Ladakh was part of Kashmir division until now.
"Give it to Leh district if you want to, but then let Kargil remain part of Kashmir division. This is absolute injustice, and we will not accept this. The decision must be reviewed, and the headquarters should be on six-month rotation," said Feroz Ahmad Khan, Chief Executive Councillor of the Ladakh Area Hill Development Council, Kargil.
All elected leaders from Kargil, including Mr Khan, have threatened to resign if the order is not withdrawn. They claim that the demand for a separate Ladakh division had actually been made by the people of Kargil, and the government's decision to install the divisional headquarters at Leh was done with the aim of creating political strife in the region.
Meanwhile, largescale agitations are being taken out in Kargil, and temperatures as low as minus 21 degrees Celsius are doing little to deter them. All political, social and religious organisations in the region have called for a shutdown tomorrow, and threatened to launch an agitation if the decision is not reviewed.
The government's decision has led to other repercussions too, with demands for separate administrative divisions cropping up from Jammu's Pirpanjal and Chenab Valley too. While the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party strongly back the creation of separate divisions for these regions, the BJP is vehemently opposed to it.
The decision on separating Ladakh from the Kashmir division was taken less than a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Leh. Although the BJP had won the Ladakh parliamentary seat in 2014, it suffered huge reverses when several senior party leaders - including its local parliamentarian - resigned in November.
The party is desperately trying to regain lost ground before the upcoming elections. While the decision has been welcomed in Leh, it faces huge opposition in Kargil. "If they don't review this decision, the entire Kargil unit of the BJP will resign," said BJP district president Mohammad Ali Majaz.
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