The Union Territory of Ladakh is split down the middle when it comes to political choices.

In Buddhist-majority Leh district, the leadership is preparing to discuss Sixth Schedule status, which guarantees a degree of autonomy and special protections to tribal areas, with the Centre. Leh recently voted the Bharatiya Janata Party back into power in its autonomous hill district council.

But Muslim-majority Kargil demands the restoration of special status under Article 370 and statehood for Ladakh. Most of the Kargil leadership has cast its lot with the People’s Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration, a conglomeration of largely Kashmir-based parties which demands the return of the pre-August 5, 2019, status quo.

On August 5 last year, the Centre stripped away special status for the state of Jammu and Kashmir, guaranteed under Article 370. It split the regions of the former states into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. It repealed Article 35A, which had empowered the government of the former state to define “permanent residents” and reserve specific rights for them. That included the right to hold government jobs and own land in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

A new alliance

On October 29, a collection of political and socio-religious organisations announced they had formed the new Kargil Democratic Alliance.

“We have...

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