Why are Kargil people against Art 370 abrogation?

Security personnel stand guard during restrictions in Srinagar. AFP

Kargil town in cold desert Ladakh region is up in arms against Center’s decision to revoke Article 370 and reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.

Reports said for the last four days, there is complete shutdown in Kargil while Section 144 was imposed in the town from Thursday morning “in connection with apprehended danger to peace and tranquillity”.

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On Friday, reports of isolated stone-pelting incidents were received from Kargil, which hogged headlines during 1999, when Indian Army launched ‘Operation Vijay’ to recapture the strategic Indian territories held by the Pakistani intruders in Kargil-Drass sector.

People of Kargil are known as patriotic and were never part of any strikes or protests called by Kashmiri separatists during the last three decades. What changed now which has forces people of Kargil to come on roads?

Akhtar Hussain, a student at Jamia Milla Islamia in New Delhi, says people in Kargil always remained loyal to the country and defended the borders along with security forces. “But we feel New Delhi ditched us finally. Why did they revoke the special status of our state and divided us? Are the same people threat for the country now, who fought side-by-side with army in 1999 and prior to that to defend the borders?” he asked.

Hussain, a resident of Kargil, says Ladakh was and should remain part of Jammu and Kashmir state. “BJP wants to divide people of the state in the name of regions and religion for their petty political gains. We will resist this move tooth and nail,” he vowed.

Sajjad Kargili, an influential Shia leader, who lost against BJP’s Jamyang Tsering in April-May Parliament elections from Ladakh, claimed that the BJP government was giving wrong impression to people of the country about the revocation of the special status of the state and creation of union territories. 

“People of Kargil are openly against this arbitrary decision. The decision which was taken by the government is against our desire and aspirations and we demand its immediate revocation,” Kargili told DH.

People of Kargil, Drass, Sankoo, Suru and Puchkum, under the banner of joint action committee (JAC), have launched a mass movement against Center’s decision. All educational institutions in Kargil district have been closed till further orders by the administration, while there is a complete strike.

On Thursday and Friday, hundreds of people marched in processions demanding the restoration of Articles 370 and 35A. Those leading the demonstrations included former MLAs Haji Asgar Ali Karbalai and Qambar Ali Akhnoon, Imam Khomieni Memorial Trust’s chairman Sadiq Rajai, Islami School Kargil President Sheikh Nazir and other clerics.

Asghar Karbalai, who demands that Article 370 be restored along with J&K’s statehood status, condemned Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal for “misleading the parliament.”

Tsering had hailed the Centre’s moves in parliament, apart from insisting that people in Ladakh were celebrating the decision. Karbalai asked him to apologise for his “lies” in parliament.

Ladakh LS seat, the largest parliament segment in India in terms of area with a total area of 173266.37 km2 - has a total of four assembly segments - Nobra, Leh, Kargil and Zanskar. While Kargil and Zanskar are dominated by Shia Muslim population, Leh and Nobra have Buddhist domination.

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