Explained | Why has a high-power Ladakh committee been formed?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained | Why has a high-power Ladakh committee been formed?” published in The Hindu on 4th January 2023

What is the News?

The Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) has constituted a high-powered committee chaired by the Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai for the Union Territory of Ladakh.

Why was the committee formed?

Civil society groups in Ladakh have been demanding protection of land, resources and employment for the past three years after the special status of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution was read down by Parliament in 2019. 

The fear of big businesses and conglomerates taking away land and jobs from the local people has contributed to this demand.

What is the mandate of the committee?

The committee will discuss measures to 1) protect the region’s unique culture and language taking into consideration its geographical location and strategic importance, 2) ensure the protection of land and employment for the people of Ladakh and 3) strategies for inclusive development and discuss issues related to the empowerment of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill District Councils of Leh and Kargil.

Note: Several members of the committee have said that their demands of statehood for Ladakh and safeguards under the sixth schedule of the Constitution were not there in the mandate of the committee.

What is the sixth schedule?

The sixth schedule under Article 244 of the Constitution protects the autonomy of tribal populations through the creation of autonomous development councils which can frame laws on land, public health and agriculture. As of now, ten autonomous councils exist in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

As per the 2011 Census, the total population of Ladakh was 2,74,289 and nearly 80% of them are tribals.

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