Sixth schedule for Ladakh: Apex Body of People’s Movement to intensify campaign

The Apex Body of People’s Movement (ABPM) on Monday decided to reach out to opinion makers in Leh and Kargil districts to press for its demand of getting constitutional safeguards under the sixth schedule for Ladakh.

Former BJP MP Thupstan Chhewang said, “Due to Covid-19 pandemic, the apex body could not initiate desired action but now we feel that the situation is improving. Therefore, we should expedite our campaign and bring all opinion makers from across Ladakh on board.” “We will start holding interactive sessions with all the stakeholders from Leh and Kargil districts,” he added.

Chhewang said the pandemic also hampered a second meet of the apex body members with home minister Amit Shah. “We have again contacted the home minister on Monday and expect an invite soon to deliberate upon the issue,” he added.

“After conferring UT status to Ladakh, constitutional safeguards under the sixth schedule are required and that is why the apex body was formed,” he said.

Former BJP unit president of Ladakh and ex-minister Chering Dorjay said, “Soon after Leh hill council polls, home minister Amit Shah had invited a delegation of apex body. However, Thupstan Chhewang had contracted Covid-19 infection. Thereafter, the farmers’ agitation started and the meeting could not be held.”

Dorjay said though the BJP has not backtracked from its promise of providing sixth schedule to Ladakh and that home minister Amit Shah was very positive about it, the local leadership appeared reluctant. “We are apprehensive because local leadership of the BJP in Ladakh, including Leh hill council, is not speaking anything about sixth schedule despite the fact that it was a top priority in their election manifesto,” he said.

Dorjay also recalled how a delegation headed by Thupstan Chhewang had asked the Leh hill council to bring a resolution on sixth schedule but it remained reluctant. “Now, we expect an invite to meet the home minister in Delhi,” he added.

The Apex Body of People’s Movement , an apolitical body, which has former BJP MP Thupstan Chhewang, Dorjay, Thiksay monastery head Rinpoche Nawang Chamba Stanzin and former minister Nawang Rigzin Jora, has been demanding constitutional safeguards under sixth schedule of the Constitution to Ladakh on lines of north-eastern states. The umbrella group includes political parties and religious organisations as well as all-powerful Leh-based Ladakh Buddhist Association.

The safeguards also guarantee more teeth to the two hill development councils of Leh and Kargil with legislative powers.

Thupstan Chhewang, the former BJP MP, had resigned from his post and primary membership of the party in November 2018 for not conferring UT status to Ladakh region and other promises made by the BJP in 2014 general elections.

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