Fresh protests erupted in Kargil district on Thursday, a day after the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) called for a mass civil disobedience movement in the region. Thousands marched through its streets in sub-zero temperatures to seek a review of the centre's decision to grant Ladakh a separate administrative divison with its headquarters at Leh.
Protests have been raging across Kargil for the sixth consecutive day, and all government offices have been closed to condemn the government's decision.
As district offices in Kargil and Leh function under autonomous councils, the mass movement called by LAHDC Kargil has created a serious challenge for the governor's administration. "Establishing the headquarters of Ladakh division at Leh has hurt the sentiments of the people of Kargil," the civic body's resolution read.
A controversial order passed by the government on February 8 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. Residents, however, have refused to be part of the newly created division unless there is six-month rotation of offices between Leh and Kargil.
Terming the government order as "absolute injustice", LAHDC Chief Executive Councillor Feroz Ahmad Khan said the government was free to establish the headquarters at Leh as long as Kargil remains with Kashmir division. All the elected leaders from Kargil, including Mr Khan, have threatened to resign if the order is not withdrawn.
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 government's decision has also given rise to a butterfly effect, with demands for separate administrative divisions cropping up from Jammu's Pirpanjal and Chenab Valley. 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.