On 5 August, the Narendra Modi-led government removed the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution. The government downgraded the state into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. It then enforced a communications blockade in the region, which is still ongoing. The government has since claimed that the situation on the ground is peaceful, and that people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh have all welcomed the move. News reports from the region, however, contradict this claim.
In “State Subjects,” The Caravan is featuring a collection of voices from various parts of the erstwhile state. Rigzin Yangdol, a Ladakhi marketing professional, discusses her apprehensions regarding Ladakh’s new union territory status.
On the morning of 5 August, a friend asked me, “What is your take on the news?” I did not know what he was referring to. “UT for Ladakh,” he said. I replied, “Yes, that has been our demand for ages. I will be happy if we get it.” I thought he must have seen a Ladakhi protest video asking for the status of a separate union territory. Later, when everyone around me started talking about it, I realised that it had happened. I went numb for some time. I could not believe it. The union territory of Ladakh seemed to be next to impossible considering the sensitive issue of the Kashmir conflict. For a large democratic country like India, where it takes years to pass a simple law, it was so sudden. I felt a sigh of relief. But when I thought about the way we were given the union territory status, the sense of freedom I felt wavered.