Ladakh to be third administrative division of Jammu and Kashmir; Omar Abdullah says Chenab, Pir Panjal to also get status

The government on Friday approved the creation of a separate administrative or revenue division for Ladakh which will comprise of Leh and Kargil districts. Till now, Ladakh was part of the Kashmir division of Jammu and Kashmir and administratively managed through the Leh and Kargil Autonomous Hill Councils. The state will now have three divisions – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.

According to the official handout released by the state Department of Information and Public Relations, the headquarters of this division will be in Leh. The government has also approved creation of the posts of Divisional Commissioner (Ladakh), Leh and Inspector General of Police (Ladakh), Leh. A committee led by the principal secretary of planning will also be set up to finalise details on staffing, posts, responsibilities and location of offices.

Ladakh to be third administrative division of Jammu and Kashmir; Omar Abdullah says Chenab, Pir Panjal to also get status

Representational Image. Reuters

There have been persistent demands for a separate division taking into account the tough topographic or geographical conditions of the region and its unique cultural status. The government statement also wrote about the long-standing demand and how it deserved a special treatment due to its distance from capital Srinagar.

A report had earlier remarked how cutting across religious lines, people of Jammu and Ladakh regions were unhappy with the state government's excessive focus on the Kashmir. It also talked about how people of these two regions are hostage to the violence in Kashmir.

The government order says that Ladakh is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Jammu and Kashmir and located on the highest plateau in the state, with most of it being 9,800 feet above sea level. It remains landlocked for nearly six months in a year and connectivity to Leh is possible only via air travel. No wonder then that it is riddled with insurmountable problems such as delivery of developmental schemes, redressal of public grievances and conduct of administrative affairs.

"The powers of local governance have already been decentralised by formation of Hill Development Councils for the Leh and Kargil Districts," the order stated.

Under the Jammu and Kashmir Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Act, 1997, the Hill Development Councils were established both for Leh and Kargil Districts. In order to strengthen the respective Hill Development Councils of Leh and Kargil, the Act was further amended further in 2018 to give them more powers.

It should be noted that making Ladakh a separate division comes months before the Lok Sabha polls. There is speculation that the move may also have to do with the NDA government's fears of a decline in its popularity in both the Jammu and Ladakh regions, both of which had previously voted for it.

LAHDC's chief executive councillor Jamyang Tsering Namgyal was earlier quoted in a report by India Today saying they wanted administrative autonomy and separation from Kashmir. He accused the National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) regimes of discrimination.

Meanwhile, former state chief minister and NC chief Omar Abdullah also said on Friday that his party will grant division status to Pir Panjal and Chenab Valley too if the party comes to power.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Feb 08, 2019 19:03:09 IST

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