SRINAGAR, : A day after divisional status was accorded to Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti opposed setting up of headquarters of the new division permanently at Leh.
“Keeping HQ permanently at one place is total discrimination with the other area, so the best option is to keep the HQ at both Leh and Kargil on rotational basis,” Mehbooba tweeted on Saturday.
Jammu and Kashmir Government on February 8, this year approved creation of a separate Administrative/ Revenue Division for Ladakh. As per the government order, this division will comprise of Leh and Kargil Districts with its headquarters at Leh.
The Government has also approved creation of the posts of Divisional Commissioner (Ladakh), Lehand Inspector General of Police (Ladakh), Leh.
There had been a long-standing demand for the creation of a separate division for Ladakh, including from the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils (LAHDC) of Leh and Kargil.
People of Ladakh had also been demanding effective local institutional arrangements. At present the powers of local governance had already been decentralised by formation of Hill Development Councils for Leh and Kargil districts. This was given effect to by enacting the Jammu and Kashmir Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Act, 1997. The Act was amended further in 2018 to give the councils more powers, it said.
The elevation of Ladakah as a separate division is being viewed as a political move ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Last year, the BJP MP Thupstan Chhewang resigned from the party blaming the party leadership for not fulfilling electoral promises like granting Union Territory status and a university to the cold desert region. Months later, the state government led by Governor Satya Pal Malik gave nod to the division status, ignoring similar demands from Muslim dominated Chenab and Pir Panjal regions in Jammu. The two Jammu mountainous regions comprising five districts have been seeking regional autonomy for their political and economic empowerment for decades like Ladakh, which was seeking Union Territory status.
Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid foundation of a separate university for Ladakh, a move that was cleared during the State Administrative Council meeting chaired by the Governor in December. Both these demands, apart from the Zojila tunnel which will make the landlocked region all-weather, were part of the BJP’s promises to the region before its maiden electoral success from Ladakh in the 2014 elections.
Spoon after Ladakh was accorded division status, PDP chief Mehbooba
The former chief minister said, “I feel the Governor is following the agenda of BJP as they were always against the idea of giving separate division status to Chenab valley and Pir Panchal areas.” (PTK)