Ladakh, a hilly geographical area on Northern border of India with 2.75 lakh population with 2 districts (Leh & Kargil) has been separated from Jammu & Kashmir with immediate effect. The region will be reorganized now as Union Territory without legislature on the lines of Daman and Diu.
The number of legislators, the region of Ladakh used to send in Jammu & Kashmir assembly was irrelevant due to small number in comparison to members from other two regions. The legislative members have no bargaining power in the state and therefore the region has been ignored for decades.
Now the region could develop itself without the interference from the politicians from Jammu & Kashmir region. Leh is very important tourist hub and tourism is primary activity in the region to support the economy. Therefore the region needs to function independently to develop itself as per the needs of tourists and maximize the productivity of the people.
The state of Jammu & Kashmir has budgeted revenue of 64,269 rupees in 2018-19, as mentioned in the above picture. Out of 64,000 crore rupees, only 12,984 crore rupees was state’s own revenue while rest of the money came from central government. Therefore almost 75 percent of the state’s total revenue comes from central government but this money is used primarily in Kashmir and some part in Jammu. Ladakh region gets step motherly treatment from the state government due to lack of bargaining power.
Despite the fact that majority of the revenue of the state is central government grant, the spending on Ladakh region is very little. In the 70 years, the state government did not even provided basic infrastructure to the region and the Congress central governments also ignored it. Ladakh being a union territory would get funds directly from the Central government and could spend it in developing tourism in the region in order to generate revenues.
The Modi government has tried to develop the region since it came to power. Previously, a railway line connecting Ladakh to the National Capital has been approved by the central government. The Railway line project will cut short the journey time between Delhi and Leh by almost half. The State Administrative Council headed by Governor Satyapal Malik has given consent to the Jammu and Kashmir University of Ladakh Bill-2018, paving way for setting up of the first ever university in the region.
The demand for separate state has been very high in Ladakh region. All Religious Joint Action Committee (ARJAC) leaders passed a resolution demanding union territory status for Ladakh. In a memorandum to Prime Minister, ARJAC leaders had said, “Ladakh is fundamentally different from Kashmir in all respects — culturally, ethnically and linguistically. Over the years the successive governments of the state have adopted a policy of discrimination and subversion towards the region with the sole objective of stifling its people and marginalizing its historical, religious and cultural identity.”
The ARJAC leaders further said, “In modern times, when the whole subcontinent has passed through the process of decolonisation to enjoy the fruits of national Independence, we, the people of Ladakh, and our land still continue to suffer under the old concept of colonial administrative structure, which suited the imperial interests and feudal rulers under the name of the pseudo-state of Jammu & Kashmir.”
The ARJAC leaders further added, “Nationalism remained a dominant ideological creed and became a rallying force among the Ladakhis to fight back the Pakistanis and the Chinese who made frequent bids of conquer our land in 1948, 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999 wars. The jawans of Ladakh Scouts played an exemplary role in decisively foiling the enemy’s misadventures.”
Among the various reasons for this demand is their inability to identify with the Dogras and the Kashmiris culturally and ethnically. Ladakh has a mixed population of Buddhists and Shias unlike the predominantly Sunni Kashmir and Hindu-majority Jammu.
Ladakhis have their own language, cuisine and culture. They look starkly different from the Dogras and Kashmiris and are closer in appearance to the neighbouring Tibetans. Ladakhis are people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent.
With the bifurcation, a historical injustice towards the Ladakh region has finally been undone.