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    MHA committee to submit report over Ladakh's demands for protection under 6th Schedule


    NEW DELHI: In a significant move, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has formed a committee to look into the demand for Sixth Schedule status by leaders from Ladakh. This demand has been brewing since the Abrogation of Article 370 which resulted in the bifurcation of J&K and Ladakh into separate administrative entities.

    The ten-member committee headed by MoS (Home) G Kishan Reddy will submit its report in this regard to Union Home Minister Amit Shah in two months' time. A delegation of the MHA will nominate members to the committee.

    Elected representatives from Ladakh, office bearers of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), ex-officio members of the Government of India and the Ladakh administration will also be nominated to the committee. Members of the committee will work together to resolve the concerns expressed by the delegation as soon as possible, the MHA said.

    In a statement, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that the Narendra Modi government is committed to the development of Ladakh and its land and culture. The Centre, he added, has shown its commitment by fulfilling the demands the people of Ladakh had been making for decades.

    Former MP Thupstan Chhewang told India Today, "Home Minister Amit Shah has been very positive right from the beginning and today's meeting. The manner in which he conducted, we have no reason to believe that he will not ensure full protection. We are expecting full constitution protection for Ladakh."

    The People's Movement, comprising leaders of all Leh-based political parties and religious organizations had issued a call for boycott of the LAHDC elections soon after they were announced in September. However, they decided to change their decision after the MHA promised to listen to their viewpoint.

    A senior officer in the North Block said that while the MHA is considerate to the demands of Ladakh's leaders, the protection sought under relevant constitutional provisions may not necessarily be under the Sixth Schedule. These provisions are available to 11 Indian states, most of them in the North East.

    "We are open to the idea of protection under relevant sections even if it is not the Sixth Schedule if our concern regarding land and jobs should be addressed," a leader from Ladakh, who attended the meeting on Wednesday, told India today.

    The MHA has been placating leaders who have been spearheading the agitation for safeguards for the UT along with socio-religious, political leaders and the newly-elected Chief Executive Councilor (CEC) of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC). *(India Today)*

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