New Delhi: Across Monday and Tuesday, India's arid mountainous desert region—Ladakh—was granted an identity that now sets it apart geographically, administratively and demographically.
In bifurcating the state of Jammu and Kashmir and scrapping special status granted to it, the Union government has created India's first Buddhist dominated union territory with a dominant Buddhist population of 1.33 lakh out of a total of 2.74 lakh.
The distinction is similar to that of Punjab which has a predominant Sikh population, which comprises 57.69% of its total population.
However, like Chandigarh, Ladakh too will not have a legislative assembly and will fall directly under Central command—a move, which its population has gladly welcomed.
With Ladakh also being strategically important with both India and China staking claim over the region, the move—even though it has raised China's heckles—will help "exercise better geopolitical control over the area," said a senior Central government official, requesting anonymity.
Making an impassioned statement on the floor of the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Bharatiya Janata Party member of Parliament (MP) from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgyal pointed out how the region had been left out of all development initiatives so far, despite pleas by its Buddhist population to past Indian administrations.
"Today is that day in Indian history when the mistakes made by the Congress under the leadership of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru are being rectified. In 1948, the president of the Ladakh Buddhist Association had requested Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to either bring Ladakh directly under central administration or make it a part of East Punjab, but under no condition keep Ladakh with Kashmir. But the government at the time didn’t even listen to us. And because we are under Kashmir, till date Ladakh has not been developed," Namgyal said.