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Buddhist march to Kargil called off amid communal tension

The march of the monks set off from the Buddhist-dominated Leh on March 31 and was scheduled to reach Kargil on June 14 for the stone laying ceremony for a Gompa over a piece of land identified more than six decades ago for the purpose by the government.

SNS | Jammu |

Amid communal tension in Shia Muslim-dominated Kargil, a march to the town led by a Tibetan Buddhist monk to the lay foundation stone for a Gompa has been called off on Tuesday reportedly due to the intervention of BJP leadership.

The march of the monks led by Choskyong Pagla Rinpoche set off from the Buddhist-dominated Leh on March 31 and was scheduled to reach Kargil on June 14 for the stone laying ceremony over a piece of land identified more than six decades ago for the purpose by the government.

The Buddhists of Ladakh have been complaining that the existing Gompa in Kargil was quite small and they were not being allowed to build a larger one on the land allotted to them for the purpose.

Asgar Ali Karbalai and Qamar Ali Akhoon, both co-chairmen of the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), wrote a strongly-worded letter to the Deputy Commissioner saying the “politically motivated” march led by a Tibetan-origin monk could disturb the communal harmony of Ladakh.

It is worth mentioning here that the Ladakh Affairs Department in the J&K secretariat had, on 15 March 1961, allotted two kanals of land in Kargil to the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) for the construction of a Buddhist temple and Sarai. However,  years later on 18 June 1969, the allotment was modified on the plea that the land shall be utilised for the construction of residential/commercial purposes and in no case for any religious purpose.

 

The modified letter triggered tension between the two communities and Buddhists have from time to time been building pressure for letting them build the Gompa. Certain Buddhist leaders have been claiming that they never raised objection to the construction of any mosque in the Leh district, but roadblocks were being raised in the construction of a Gompa in the Muslim-dominated Kargil.

It is also being suspected that the communal tension might have been built to weaken the first-ever unity between Buddhists and Muslims, who last year forged an alliance in support of their demand for the Sixth Schedule for Ladakh to safeguard the heritage, culture, and rights of the people after Ladakh was detached from Jammu and Kashmir and made a separate union territory.

The KDA claimed that negotiations on the issue were held between them and the LBA that were the stakeholders, but the Tibetan monk, whom they described as a third party, was trying to create tension by organising the march, the KDA alleged.

Thupstan Chhewang, leader of LBA and two times MP from Ladakh, was reportedly not in favour of disturbing the peace in Ladakh which shares borders with China and Pakistan.