We, the people of Ladakh, are extremely happy that Article 370 has been removed.
All of us in Ladakh, irrespective of which party we belong to, support this move by the BJP. All of us wanted that our hilly area be declared a union territory (UT).
Everything which was announced by Home Minister Amit Shah was fine — except for the fact that we wanted Ladakh to have UT status along with a legislature. Without a legislature, it will still be hard for us to frame our own rules but we will fight for it. We have now got freedom from Kashmir — perhaps people don't know this but our slogan has always been to free Ladakh from Kashmir.
Ever since India gained its independence, none of us in Ladakh wanted to be part of Kashmir.
We were made to go with a state which didn’t care about us — only themselves.
Even the politicians in J&K would always frame laws for the Valley. What would Ladakh get nothing? Not even an iota of development took place in our area simply because of us being part of Kashmir.
From day one of India's independence, it was totally against the wishes of the Ladakhi people that we were integrated with Kashmir. We continuously and vociferously opposed this move and an option was given to India that we be governed independently or let us alternatively be clubbed with East Punjab. Our leaders had given this option in writing to Jawaharlal Nehru — but unfortunately, nothing of that sort happened.
De-link already: Huge agitations were organised for Ladakh to be free from Kashmir. (Photo: ANI)
All of us in Ladakh led agitations to make our region into a UT. Now, we are not concerned with Kashmir — they will have to mind and mend their own business.
Politics in Ladakh is different from what is there in the entire country. Irrespective of which party you belong to, everyone here supports development. This is why I, being in the Congress, support the removal of Article 370.
I want to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for giving Ladakh our identity back.
Article 370 was a draconian provision which was primarily for the upkeep and maintenance of Kashmiris. There was no rules therein to protect the interests of the people living in Jammu or Ladakh.
In the last 70 years, the people of Ladakh have been faced thus with immense humiliation. Staying with Kashmir, at every level, we faced discrimination — when it came to allotments, employment, fund allocation, central government, whatever our people wanted to do couldn’t be done without the consent of the state.
Politicians in Kashmir blackmailed the centre to get extra benefits over there — which led to zero development in Ladakh. Here, instead, middlemen would simply run away with the funds allocated for us.
Welfare and development money never reached Ladakh as the funds would always stay in the Valley. All the development which has taken place in Ladakh today is only because of the army. They have made roads — and that’s what we have got.
Now, with Ladakh being a UT, new schools will come up, our kids will go to proper schools — I cannot adequately express the happiness at that thought. Central government will send funds straight to Ladakh and development will take place without anyone eyeing ways to take away our designated money.
From the very beginning, Article 370 should have been removed — this moment is in our favour.
(As told to: Rohit E David)