A complete shutdown was observed across Ladakh as thousands marched demanding statehood and constitutional protections under the sixth schedule for the Union Territory.
Protests were jointly organised by the Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance.
Thousands of men and women marched across the main city of Leh in freezing temperatures, shouting slogans demanding statehood for Ladakh, the implementation of the sixth schedule of the Constitution, and also separate parliament seats for Leh and Kargil districts.
The shutdown was observed despite the Centre’s announcement to hold a second round of talks with representatives of the Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance.
The Centre has already constituted a high-powered committee headed by Minister of State (Home Affairs) Nityanand Rai to address the demands of the people of Ladakh.
The people of Ladakh said they couldn’t live under an unending bureaucratic rule in the Union Territory and only a full statehood – where they elect their representatives to govern the region – could fulfil their demand.
In December, the Center held its first meeting in Ladakh and asked both the bodies from Leh and Kargil to submit their demands.
Ladakh was carved out as a separate Union Territory after Article 370 was scrapped and the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated and downgraded into two Union Territories in August 2019.
But within just two years, the people of Leh and Kargil felt politically dispossessed and have jointly risen against the Centre.
Over the last two years, they have held multiple protests demanding statehood and constitutional guarantees to protect their land, jobs, and distinct identity, something they used to enjoy under Article 370.