Monks and Muslims vote to demand rights for India’s Ladakh

Monks and Muslims vote to demand rights for India's Ladakh

On May 20, Buddhist monks and Muslims in the Indian Himalayan region of Ladakh gathered to cast ballots demanding independence and the preservation of their native culture in the increasingly Hindu-dominated country.

About half the folks in the sparsely populated, cold desert place bordering China and Pakistan are Muslim, with around 40 per cent Buddhist, putting it among the least Hindu areas in the country.

The government of Hindu nationalist Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is vying for a second term in office, has so far failed to fulfill Ladakhis ‘ needs.

Voters in Leh, the main town of the territory, including Buddhist monks wearing yellow robes, gathered to cast their ballots at polling places where the mountains are also snow-capped despite the heatwave-strengthening conditions of India.

Leh has become a very militarised region since a 2020 borders faceoff with China, and Buddhist gompas, temples, and symbols are all over the place. This includes memorials to troops killed in clashes with the neighboring nations.

Ladakh has long been a part of Jammu and Kashmir, an intelligent state in India.

Residents have long argued for legal protection of local culture, measures to protect its delicate environment, and a senate of their own.

” We need safety”, said Stanzin Norphel, 74, after casting his vote. ” This state has destroyed Ladakh”, added the retired native power individual, who is Buddhist.

Modi’s government cut Ladakh away from Indian- administered Kashmir when it revoked the city’s semi- independence in 2019 and made them both union territories, imposing strong rule.

Monks in the high-altitude area celebrated at the time, anticipating greater rights for them.

However, the federal government has yet to fulfill its commitment to incorporate Ladakh in the Sixth Schedule of India’s law, which enables indigenous tribal people to create their own laws and policies.

The candidates running for the couch, which belongs to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, promise to bring about the desired change while protecting local traditions and property.

Umila Bano, 59, who is Muslim, said she voted for a prospect” who I think may actually work for getting us included in the Sixth Schedule”.

” Ladakh needs it”, she told AFP in Leh.