SRINAGAR: In a major snub to political and religious leadership of Leh town in Ladakh, the two prominent religious groups in Kargil have spurned the idea to create a Union Territory (UT) for Ladakh region. The leaders in Kargil have urged for a united Jammu and Kashmir and said that given a choice they would side with Kashmir Valley.
Two prominent organisations of Kargil Muslims, predominantly Shias–the Islamia School Kargil (ISK) and Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust (IKMT)—on Tuesday vociferously opposed the plan of giving UT status to Ladakh. The rejection came a week after prominent religious and political leaders in Leh town sent a memorandum to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to separate Ladakh from Jammu and Kashmir and grant it UT status.
The Leh region notoriously launched an anti-Kashmir campaign in 1989 in which Kashmiri traders were targeted and local Muslims were boycotted for several years. The miniscule minority of Muslims in Leh is ever since following the diktats of the majority community. Muslim leaders in Leh have also signed the pro-UT memorandum to Modi.
President of the Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust (IKMT) Kargil, Sheikh Muhammad Hussain Lutfi said that Kargil will never part ways with the people of Kashmir.
“We will support every decision taken by the people and leadership from Kashmir. We are not ready to leave people of Kashmir,” Lutfi said, adding that some politicians with vested interests from Leh were harping on UT status to mislead voters.
“These politicians know it well that it is not possible to get UT status for Ladakh and still they are playing politics over it to gain votes. We have already made it clear that we are against the division of the state and if it happens, we will back the Kashmir leadership,” Lutfi said.
Lutfi alleged that the PDP-BJP government has been using dilly-dallying tactics in the construction of Zojila Tunnel that will connect Kargil with Kashmir.
“This tunnel will bridge the gap between Kashmir and Kargil and we are eagerly waiting for the day when work on this tunnel will commence,” he said.
Ladakh region, comprising the two districts of Leh and Kargil, has a total population of 2, 95,745 with an electorate strength of 1, 62,354. The entire region is spread over four assembly constituencies, two each in Kargil and Leh.
The demand for UT status to Ladakh has the BJP’s backing.
President of the Islamia School Kargil, Sheikh Mehdi, said, “Let us make it clear that we don’t support UT status for Ladakh region. We are with united Jammu and Kashmir and those who claim that people from Kargil also want UT status are misleading New Delhi.”