The Ladakh administration’s purported move to showcase Buddhist culture and be oblivious to the culture of the majority Muslim population during the fledgling Union Territory’s debut Republic Day parade in the national capital has triggered fresh communal tension in the region, with the elected head of Kargil writing to the lieutenant governor to express his outrage.
For the first time, no tableau from Jammu and Kashmir will participate in the event and while Ladakh has found a place, its Muslims are reportedly finding no representation.
Kargil chief executive officer Feroz Ahmad Khan has hit out at the Ladakh administration for allegedly ignoring the region’s rich diversity in the first ever tableau from the Union Territory to be showcased in the capital, claiming that their “religious and cultural heritage” has been ignored.
Ladakh comprises of Muslim-majority Kargil and Buddhist-majority Leh districts but Muslims have a slender majority in the region as a whole.
The two communities have been at loggerheads for long but the 2019 decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and carve out a separate Union Territory of Ladakh has deepened the divide. Muslims opposed the move while the Buddhists celebrated.
The Muslims, though in majority, have always feared domination by the more influential Buddhists, and the administration’s move to showcase Buddhist culture has stoked those misgivings.
Khan has written to Ladakh lieutenant governor R.K. Mathur against “the partial representation of the UT at an event as prominent as the Republic Day celebration”, alleging that “it alienates the people of Kargil district”.
“It is unfortunate to note that only a single aspect of Ladakhi culture has been incorporated for display on Ladakh’s Republic Day 2021 tableau, thereby failing to showcase the rich and diverse religious-cultural fabric of Ladakh. It is felt that partial representation of the UT at an event as prominent as the Republic Day celebration alienates the people of Kargil district,” Khan’s letter stated.
“LAHDC (Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council), Kargil, wishes to request you to kindly pass necessary directions to the concerned for the incorporation of religious/heritage sites and cultural ethos of Kargil district in the UT Ladakh tableau,” it added.
Union minister Dr Jintedra Singh appeared to be confirming the claim of the Kargil leadership. “A tableau from #Ladakh will participate in #RepublicDay Parade on Rajpath for first time this year. Ladakh’s tableau depicts the iconic Thikse Monastery located on top of a hill in Thikse in Leh district, and is one of the most-visited tourist sites in the region,” he tweeted.