Ladakh councillors protest outside L-G’s residence over delay in bringing back stranded locals
In an embarrassment to the UT administration in Ladakh, the Chief Executive Councillor of Leh’s Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Gyal P Wangyal, along with his Deputy Tsering Sandup, executive councillors, and councillors held a dharna outside the residence of Lt Governor R K Mathur Monday.
The dharna was to protest over the delay in evacuation of locals stranded elsewhere in the country amid the Covid-19 lockdown.
On Sunday, BJP Ladakh unit president Chering Dorjay had resigned from the party over the same issue.
Ladakh, a UT without a Legislative Assembly, has two autonomous hill councils, one for Leh and another for Kargil. The Chief Executive Councillor of the council holds the status of cabinet minister of a state and the executive councillor of Minister of State.
The dharna outside the LG’s residence started around noon with protestors accusing the administration of having a callous attitude towards the evacuation of people of Leh, who were stranded in different parts of the country including Jammu and Srinagar.
The protesting LAHDC councillors lifted their dharna around 2 pm only after the LG came out of the Raj Bhavan and assured them that the UT would bear all the expenses of bringing people home.
Tsering Sandup, however, said that they have asked the UT administration to issue an order in the matter. Pointing out that there were nearly 15,000 Leh residents stranded across the country, they said if the UT administration did not make arrangements by Tuesday evening, they will intensify their agitation.
Sources said tension was already brewing up between LAHDC and the UT administration over the delay in evacuation of people. However, matters came to head when five buses, which had left Jammu on Saturday carrying stranded people to Ladakh, did not reach Leh on Monday.
Accusing the UT administration of being insensitive to the problems of the people of Leh, Tsering Sandup said that once the Union Home ministry issued guidelines for all states and UTs for bringing home their people, they had been pressing the LG and his advisor for making arrangements for Leh people. However, as nothing was done by the UT administration, the LAHDC arranged 20 buses on its own for bringing home people from Jammu, he added.
In the absence of any coordination between the UT administration of Ladakh with its counterpart in Jammu and Kashmir, a large number of people were still stranded there. They included elderly people who had gone there to escape the harsh winters of Ladakh and for treatment, as also students and traders, he pointed out.
On Saturday, after lot of efforts by LAHDC, he said, the J&K administration allowed five buses to leave Jammu. However, these were yet to reach Leh by Monday evening, as the buses were being stopped by every police naka en route, he said, alleging there was no coordination between the UTs of Ladakh and J&K in the matter.
Significantly, the sitting Lok Sabha member from Ladakh, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, is also from the BJP.
While Chering Dorjay said that Monday’s dharna by LAHDC members outside Raj Bhavan has exposed the BJP’s tall claims of giving a transparent and responsive administration to the people of Ladakh, Sajjad Hussain Kargali, an independent candidate who ended runners-up in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Ladakh, in his tweet had a jibe at the BJP MP, saying: “This is wht the so called UT has brght upon us, thr is still time for u to wake up, failure of UT model is now visible. Elected reps like HCEC LAHDC Leh is compelled to protest at the gates of @lg Ladakh. A Déjà vu of @Arvind Kejriwal vs Najeeb Jung fiasco in Delhi.