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Buddhist monk’s march stirs communal tension in Ladakh

Arjun Sharma

Jammu, June 12

A march by a monk has triggered communal tension in Ladakh, the northernmost UT of the country. The march, started from Buddhist-dominated Leh on May 31, will end in Muslim-dominated Kargil on June 14.

Choskyong Palga Rinpoche started the journey along with his followers. He aims at laying the stone of a monastery at a controversial site in Kargil. Some members of the Muslim community have already raised objections. The issue holds importance as members of both communities had, for the first time, forged an alliance last year to raise their demand for the 6th Schedule for Ladakh to safeguard the local heritage, culture and rights of people.

The Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), an association of social and religious organisations, shot off a letter to the Deputy Commissioner stating that the march was politically motivated and could disturb communal harmony in Ladakh.

“The KDA has held a meeting with representatives of the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) regarding the issue of construction of a Gompa (monastery) in Kargil. Both bodies agreed that the issue must be resolved amicably,” the letter read. Under such circumstances, a third person having no stake in the matter was trying to disrupt peace in the region, it read. While the KDA and LBA are in talks over the matter, the Kargil unit of the LBA has extended support to the monk.

Its chief Skarma Dadul said the Buddhists were not being allowed to construct a monastery in Kargil. “We don’t want to create any tension, but it is our right to have a proper place of worship,” he said. The administration and police are quiet on the matter, but it is learnt that police have been told to deal with the situation in Kargil if goes out of control.

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