While the partition of Kashmir over 60 years ago has caused huge problems, the lesser-known divisions in Ladakh are also causing stresses for the Ladakhis.
Professor Sidiq Wahid, Vice Chancellor of the Islamic University of Science and Technology in Kashmir, developed this theme in a lecture in New Delhi last week, part of a year-long observation of the 60th anniversary of the partition between Pakistan and India. He said that the partition of Ladakh between Pakistan, India, and China has divided even more families than conflict in the Kashmir Valley. The lecture, “The Great Partition—Effects on Ladakh,” was supported by the Heinrich Boll Foundation and other organizations. An article about the lecture was issued by the Indo-Asian News Service.
Wahid maintained that the traumas in Ladakh in 1947 were no less severe than the better known tragedies in the Punjab and Bengal regions during the wars of the partition. He reviewed for his audience some of the violent episodes during the history of Ladakh, such as the conflict in the 9th century, when Ladakh broke off from Tibet, the conquest of the region in the 1830s by the Dogra rulers of Jammu, the violence of 1947 – 1948, and the fighting in the Kargil district of Ladakh in 1965, 1971, 1999, and, most recently, in 2004.
He described other stresses in Ladakh, such as the fact that “the region is a victim of homogenisation and hegemony.” Even though there are 250,000 people living in Ladakh, their issues are not effectively considered by government bodies. He argued that Ladakhis living in the part of Ladakh controlled by Pakistan, called Gilgit Baltistan, have even greater problems.
An excellent book by Ravina Aggarwal, Beyond Lines of Control: Performance and Politics on the Disputed Borders of Ladakh, India, gives perhaps the best explanations of the consequences for Ladakh of the partition, but Wahid’s observations are useful too. An earlier speech by him in September 2006 also dwelt on these issues.