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SOURCE: OUTLOOK INDIA

The newly elected chief executive councilor, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, Tashi Gyalson, along with his other BJP councillors and leaders today met defence minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi and submitted a range of demands.

The demands include bunkers for residents living along the India-China border and permission for tourists to visit the Siachen base. 

Significantly, the delegation sought to ease restrictions along the China-India border for locals to take their livestock for grazing. Much before the present standoff between the Chinese PLA and the Indian Army along the India-China border in the Ladakh region, locals have been complaining that they are being denied access to the grazing lands along the border. Taking up the issue at present indicates how much significance the government in Leh has attached to the issue.  

According to a Ladakh government spokesperson, the delegation also sought bunkers for civilians living along the border to protect their lives during emergencies. “The delegation also sought permission and NOC from the defence ministry to operate JIO in Demchok where the tower is already installed,” the spokesperson said.

It is the first visit to Delhi by the LAHDC, Leh chairman, and his councilors after the recent win in the elections.

Earlier, after winning the election on October 26, Tashi Gyalson promised that he would devote himself to the development of the region. The BJP won 15 out of 26 seats of the LAHDC, Leh.

The Congress won nine seats and two were bagged by the Independents.

The spokesperson said the delegation also sought health, clothing, and wages for labourers deployed at Siachen. The spokesperson said the delegation also sought the release of 23 Kanal of land under army control to make the UDAN scheme to be implemented at Thoise Nubra. They called for increasing programs under operation Sadbhavna, especially in Leh district.

The delegation demanded that preference should be given to locals in the army recruitment in Ladakh. They also asked for regularization of local porters and preference for local labourers during winter months. Local labourers are disengaged during winter months by the contractors.

 “The delegation stressed on early completion of Nimoo-Padum- Darcha road keeping in view its strategic importance for Ladakh,” the spokesperson said.

“Defence Minister Rajnath Singh assured the delegation for addressing all the demands and issues priority wise in coming months and years,” the spokesman said.

The LHDC, Leh, was constituted in accordance with the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Act of 1995 during P.V. Narasimha Rao’s government, and its first election was held in 1995. Later during Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led PDP rule in 2003 similar council was established for the Kargil district. 

The LAHDC Leh and the LAHDC Kargil were functioning in a truly independent manner in the erstwhile state of J&K.

However, after the abrogation of Article 370, many in the region are complaining that their powers are being undermined. Even though the Leh region welcomed Union Territory status unlike Kargil, they are now concerned about the demography of the region. Ahead of the present LAHDC, Leh polls, prominent political leaders, political parties, including the BJP and religious monks from the region formed the Peoples Movement of Ladakh demanding constitutional safeguards for locals of the region under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.