End the bureucratic regime over Ladakh Restore its Statehood.

Ladakh, the eastern part of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state has since last month witnessed massive protests involving hundreds of thousands of people across the region. They are protesting against the brute regime of the Union Government over the territory. Earlier in 2019, BJP in a high-handed move, abrogated Article 370 and converted Ladakh into the Union Territory, depriving it of statehood without any consultation with the people or its elected representatives. Such moves by BJP government with complete disregard for federalism have become the norm than an exception.

Conversion to Union Territory has seen its democratic framework replaced by a bureucratic one. An article “The Roots of discontent in Ladakh” on the webport The Wire reported that instead of two deputy commissioners for two districts of Leh and Kargil earlier, now UT is governed by a Lt Governor, an advisor, a principal secretary, three commissioner secretaries, four secretaries, one IG Ladakh Police, DIGs, two SSPs, five SPs and an abundance of officers from the erstwhile state services, resulting in a cobweb of bureaucracy. Such rule by the bureaucracy meant the further undermining of the authority of elected bodies like Autonomous Hill Development Councils in each district.

The draft of a new industrial policy has further alarmed the residents of the region. Ladakh, which primarily comprises tribes, has hill councils that decide on land allotments. The proposed industrial policy aims to vest this power in the bureaucracy. The decisions to earmark community land as state land and reassign the power of land documentation to the collector have further added to suspicion. The policy of contractualization of appointments in public services and the arbitary rules for it have further estranged the masses. They demand full statehood for Ladakh, inclusion in the Sixth Schedule (which provides protection to its land, culture and jobs), the establishment of public service commissions, and two MPs for the region.

The current BJP government acts nakedly as an agent of the capitalist class, and it is very evident that it would use bureaucracy to allow corporate capital to loot the resources of the region. For the land that is inhabited by various tribes and has a sensitive ecology, such policies would be destructive. It is this fear and lack of indigenous voices that have triggered such massive struggles across the region. It is noteworthy that another such state, Manipur in the north-east has been simmering with similar, or rather, much worse, discontent for around a year now. The New Socialist Alternative stands in full solidarity with the masses of Ladakh. Yesterday, Youths for Alternative, a political campaign undertaken by us to mobilize youths looking for alternatives, organized a solidarity campaign. Youths held posters upholding the demands of the masses of Ladakh.

B. Youvraj
Kabeer Pansare 
New Socialist Alternative