In Leh, anxiety replaces excitement

In Leh, anxiety replaces excitement

In Leh

While initially there were celebrations in Leh, anxiety has now replaced initial excitement.

The decision to revoke Article 370 and grant Ladakh region the status of union territory (UT) has exposed the fault lines between the Muslim-dominated Kargil and the largely Buddhist Leh districts.

While initially there were celebrations in Leh, anxiety has now replaced initial excitement. Craving for a separate identity from Jammu and Kashmir was always a dream for the people of Ladakh. However, after initial enthusiasm, many in Leh are now apprehensive about the loss of special status they enjoyed under the previous arrangement, which insulated them from external influences.

Read: The 370 aftermath: Beneath the calm in Kashmir

“Once big industrialists are allowed to buy land in Ladakh, we will be out of competition as we don’t have the wealth and skill to match them,” a hotelier from Leh told DH over the phone.

“Everyone was in a celebratory mood when separate UT of Ladakh was announced. But after some time, discussions started in the town as to how the absence of Article 370 would turn adverse for us. Traditional values will be lost as the focus would shift on money,” he added.

The decision to grant UT status was hailed by Ladakh Buddhist Association and most of the Congress and BJP politicians, who felt that the people of Ladakh always faced discrimination and step-motherly treatment from successive governments in the past in fund sharing and employment.

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But while people in Leh are still carrying the cost-benefit analysis of the decision, people in the neighbouring Kargil district rejected it from day one. Sajjad Kargili, who fought the last Lok Sabha elections unsuccessfully with the joint support of the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, said the people of Kargil want to be part of the Kashmir region.

“We are against the revocation of Article 370 and want to remain as part of Kashmir,” Kargili told DH.

According to 2011 census, the Ladakh region had a population of 2.74 lakh, with a majority (1.41 lakh) in Kargil.