BJP first time MP from Ladakh, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, emerged as a new find for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after his fiery speech in Parliament during the debate on bills and resolutions related to Jammu & Kashmir on August 6. During the speech he lashed out at the Congress and Valley-based political leaders for suppressing the identity and development of Ladakh. In a candid interview to Nishant Kr Azad, Senior Correspondent Organiser, Jamyang said that the importance of Ladakh is countless and the decision to scrap Article 370 will make Ladakh and Bharat stronger. Excerpts:
How do you see the Central Government’s decision to amend Article 370 and subsequent separation of Ladakh as a Union Territory (UT) without Legislature from J&K?
The decision taken by the Parliament regarding Article 370 is historic. The 370 votes that came in favour enabled the exit of the Article 370. This is in favour of the country and had to be done much earlier. The relationship between Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and rest of India was skewed due to this Article, which has now been corrected. This decision will make India stronger than ever before.
With regard to making Ladakh a UT, the benefit is not only for the people of Ladakh but is a step towards making entire Bharat stronger. We should not see Ladakh as just a piece of land. Ladakh is the precious gem of Bharat. Ladakh is that region which connects rest of India with China and Pakistan. Every war that has taken place since Independence has happened in Ladakh. The Kabaili attack in 1947 began in Ladakh. Indo-China war of 1962, Kargil war of 1999, all happened in Ladakh. Ladakh is important not only due to its strategic importance, but also due to its unique culture, traditions and peace loving religious heritage. People spend lakhs and come to Ladakh to witness this distinctive culture. We have to see Ladakh in this respect too.
The strength of Bharat lies in Ladakh. It is a repository of its water as most of the glaciers are here. For India, Ladakh can be the biggest source of our solar capacity. One region of Bharat that is free of pollution is Ladakh. Likewise, the importance of Ladakh is countless and this decision will only make both Ladakh and Bharat stronger.
But soon after this decision, the Congress along with the political parties like National Conference (NC) and PDP has termed the amendment to Article 370 as a ‘historical blunder’?
They are only trying to hide their previous blunders and attempting to hoodwink people like they have been doing all these years. But now they will not be able to do the same as every voter, every individual has woken up. He/she understands what is good for them today and what is bad. We know very well that for decades only what the Congress wanted was taught to us through textbooks, which was nothing but eulogising one family. Has any textbook mentioned the sacrifice of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee? Have they been told the great work on Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya? Our syllabus has also hidden the contributions of Sardar Vallabhai Patel in unifying the country. However, this attitude has now been exposed and people are becoming aware of who really gave up their lives for the sake of the country. So this attempt by Congress and other parties to deceive people will not be successful.
In your speech at Parliament, you highlighted the fact that the funds meant for Ladakh were being diverted to Kashmir and did not reach the region. Now, what are your plans for development of Ladakh?
It is pertinent to know what used to happen to the funds that were sought from the Centre for J&K. The funds were solicited based on area of the region where Ladakh had to get the largest share given its size. But when the funds reached ‘Kashmir’, it was never distributed as claimed. They used to say that the funds will be distributed district-wise based on the population of the region but even that did not happen. I can tell you that in the name of funds given to the district not a single paisa reched as the state share for Ladakh. For example, we requested funds for Leh-Ladakh for Pashmina development from the Central Government. Modi Government sanctioned Rs. 50 crore for the scheme. But when the funds reached Kashmir, it was routed elsewhere. Though the funds were utilised in the name of Ladakh, it was not utilised for Pashmina development but for some other project. When one of our officers went to enquire, he was told that the funds have been released two months ago but we knew nothing about it. The money earmarked for us was used elsewhere and were told that the funds are over. This is how funds were being misused.
But now with Ladakh becoming a UT, the funds meant for the region will directly go to Ladakh. The consolidated funds will directly come to Ladakh Autonomous Council. All leaks will now be plugged.
Do you blame the NC and PDP for neglecting Ladakh and looting the funds?
Not just these two parties, I blame even the Congress. Even Congress had ruled the State for a long time. Ghulam Nabi Azad was crying hoarse in the Parliament over these developments. I would like to ask him what he did for Ladakh when he was the Chief Minister. He wonders what will happen to Ladakh for which I would say that only good things will happen to Ladakh now.
"The Kashmiri language which does not even have a script has been included in this Schedule. When people of Jammu agitated, even Dogri was included. We have been struggling for the inclusion of Bhoti language in the 8th Schedule. This is our next step after Ladakh becomes a UT "
Can you shed light on the way Kashmiri politicians neglected Ladakh and the reasons you demanded freedom from Kashmir?
At the outset, we did not have any issue with the average Kashmiris. They are very nice people and we have warm relationship with them. It is only a handful of people from a couple of families who appropriated the state for themselves and gave a step-motherly treatment to Ladakh. They portrayed themselves as the leaders of Ladakh when they were not. We do not speak on behalf of Kashmir and this is our stance. But politicians from Kashmir have been taking decisions on behalf of Ladakh and this is not right. They are not our leaders as we have our own leaders. Hence, we demanded freedom from ‘Kashmir’.
Would you elaborate the inequality and injustice meted out to Ladakh as some MP’s tried to mislead the Lok Sabha by claiming that amendment of Article 370 will damage the equality in the State?
I would like to ask those who say that amendment of Article 370 will lead to inequality, where was your equality all these years? See the history and ground reality and you will realise the true picture. Look, for example, at the number of Higher Secondary schools in Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. Though we have a lesser population, we do not even have the number of schools that we deserve. There is not even one Engineering College in Ladakh. Is this your equality? Will you believe me if I say that Ladakh does not have a single Business Management institution or a central university. We did not even have a university till recently until Modiji declared setting up of a university in Ladakh. It is yet to materialise. How many jobs have been created for the people of Ladakh in any sector? Look at agriculture or health sector or any other sector. Did we get employment opportunities we deserve? The answer is No. So they do not have any right to speak about equality on behalf of Ladakh.
After the recent developments, China has expressed serious over the bifurcation of J&K and the declaration of Ladakh as a UT?
I would like to say that this is an internal decision of India and hence China or any other countries should have no concern over it. Even if they do we should not give much importance to it. Most importantly, we should note what our Home Minister Amit Shah said in his speech in Lok Sabha. He said Ladakh will be a union territory including ‘Aksai Chin’. This shows the clear intent and resolve of the Central Government.
Before this, Nehru came up with the Forward Policy which was to continue to reclaim our territory gradually. But what was on the ground was totally different. Whenever China threatened us, Congress-led Governments stepped back only to cede more of our territory to China and they have reached Demchok. Until 2008, the posts in Demchok were under our control. The Zohrawar Fort in Demchok was also with us. But we lost both by 2012 and China has a post there now. We know who was in power at the Centre then. I speak about the ground realities. So, when the Home Minister said Ladakh will be a UT including ‘Aksai Chin’, Chinese were perturbed.
You spoke also about the ‘demographic change’ in Ladakh in your speech that affected the people of Ladakh? Would you elaborate on how it impacted the Ladakhis?
"We need to understand that the two families that ruled J&K did not deliver good governance, or good education for children, good health or decent facilities for the people of the state. They ruled with an agenda"
We need to understand that the two families that ruled J&K did not deliver good governance, or good education for children, good health or decent facilities for the people of the state. They ruled with an agenda. They wanted to finish off all the minorities in the State. Apart from Ladakhi Buddhists, we know what they did to the minority Kashmiri Pandits. Their unique culture has been vanquished in Kashmir. Congress claims that it is secular but their leaders in Rajya Sabha speak of how Ladakh which was Buddhist-majority is now a Muslim majority region. Why do so-called secular leaders talk in terms of Buddhists and Muslims? If you are truly secular you should think of welfare for all and not about their religious identities. You are bothered only about Muslims, it shows your agenda. It also showcases what pseudo-secularism is. Ladakh was a Buddhist majority region with 70-80% share. It became a Muslim majority region with 60% Muslims over the decades through a well thought out agenda. We are grateful to Modiji for taking this step, else we would have been reduced to less than 1% in coming days. This demographic influx was done gradually to finish off the Buddhists. We do not have any problems with Muslims individually as both have good relationship. They participate in our festivals and dine with us. But what we are against is their nefarious agenda.
Ladakh has many distinct and endangered languages? What are your plans to protect and revive them?
We have a clear roadmap to protect our language. It is called the ‘Bhoti’ language which has to be included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. The Kashmiri language which does not even have a script has been included in this Schedule. When people of Jammu agitated, even Dogri was included. We don’t have a complaint against others but the language of Ladakh has been neglected.
We have been struggling for the inclusion of Bhoti language in the 8th Schedule. This is our next step after Ladakh becomes a UT. We wish that the Bhoti language be taught in all Indian universities. The uniqueness of the Bhoti language is that it originated in the 7th Century and came from the Nalanda tradition. It is a lesson in history to learn and study Bhoti.
Even PM Narendra Modi praising you in a tweet, terming your speech as a ‘must hear’. What is your feeling on this?
I consider that this is not the praise of a single person and this is the truth. It was an expression of the feelings of the people of Ladakh whose voice was suppressed for seven decades. The truth that was expressed is being endorsed by the PM and the people of the country across states and regions of Hindustan. Everyone is expressing their support for me through innumerable calls and messages. This is the first ever recognition to the emotions of every citizen who resides even in the remotest corners of Ladakh.