New Delhi: The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) will hold a meeting with the Union ministries of Home and Tribal Affairs on Wednesday to discuss if Ladakh can be declared a tribal area.
The meeting comes amid a growing demand from leaders in Ladakh for according “tribal area” status to the region.
“The NCST will discuss with the ministries of Home and Tribal Affairs whether Ladakh can be declared a tribal area in view of the demand of local residents,” a senior official of the NCST said.
The commission also wants to know why none of the Union territories with a predominantly tribal population, be it Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep or Dadra and Nagar Haveli, is part of the Fifth or the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, the official said.
In a memorandum to Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda in August, BJP MP from Ladakh, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal had said the region is a predominantly tribal area, with tribals making up to 98 per cent of its population.
“After the Centre announced its decision to make Ladakh a Union Territory, the biggest concern of the tribal population here is to protect its identity, culture, land and economy,” he had said.
Though Ladakhis welcomed the Centre’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, and make Ladakh a Union territory, they fear an influx of outsiders would lead to a change in the region’s demography, jeopardising their culture and identity.
Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Chairman Gyal P Wangyal said now their only demand is that Ladakh be brought under the Sixth Schedule so that their land remains protected.