Not An Inch Of Our Land Is With China, Says Ladakh LG B D Mishra
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Not An Inch Of Our Land Is With China, Says Ladakh LG B D Mishra

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A retired brigadier of the Indian Army, B D Mishra said that speculation on Chinese incursions in Ladakh was politically motivated

The development of Ladakh after it was carved out of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 is on track, lieutenant governor B D Mishra said on Saturday. A retired brigadier of the Indian Army, a war veteran and a former governor of Arunachal Pradesh, Mishra said that speculation on Chinese incursions in Ladakh was politically motivated. The government is doing all that is necessary to protect the rights of the people of Ladakh and the territorial integrity of the Union territory that abuts Tibet, the lieutenant governor said. Commenting on the central government’s foreign policy, Mishra said the Chinese know that the Indian leadership after Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power is not going to yield even one square inch of land to China. Edited excerpts:

What has changed on the ground since the Union territory was carved out in 2019?

When Ladakh was a part of Jammu and Kashmir state, there were few MLAs (members of legislative assembly) from the area and the budget for all aspects, including education, health and agriculture, was very lean. It was only to keep them going. The attitude was they (Ladakhis) were in the high hills, so let them survive. Now, after the Union territory has come into being on October 31, 2019, the budget has been increased, there is a lieutenant governor, his secretariat and development plans. These are reaching out to the people.

The two councils that we have, the Ladakh and Kargil hill development councils, are being consulted. We ask them what they require and a lot in the budget gets done accordingly. In the border area, we have the vibrant villages programme. Roads and tunnels and other infrastructure development is taking place and that is our focus. In addition, we are paying attention to health and education.

What are the challenges you have encountered since you took over?

There are two challenges. One, water management, because people are living on high hills and rivers are downstream. We are working on how to make water available for our people for the next 30 years. For that, we are trying to rationalise bore well drilling, checking pollution of rivers and lakes.

Another issue is jobs. When I reached there and started looking at the key result areas, I found that jobs are very important. We started trying to get vacancies filled. There was a problem with the staff selection centre. There were almost 1,000 jobs which were stuck because of litigation. Ultimately from the Supreme Court, I got a decision for the release of these vacancies.

I have a slogan, corruption free and delay free Ladakh. My antenna is out. If there is any corruption or delay in work, I have to stop it. My door is open in my office, anybody can come. We recently had the council elections; these were held in a very fair, fearless, prompt and timely manner.

There was a longstanding demand for Union territory status for Ladakh, but now a section of people are demanding restoration of statehood. They want a legislature.

Even the smallest state has a population of not less than 14-15 lakh. Our population is close to 3 lakh. In that population, it is not a viable democratic proposition because if you have an assembly, you want to have a minimum of 60 members. No assembly in India has less than 60. (Goa, Mizoram, Puducherry have less than 60 seats).

If you look at the ratio, it will be just a couple of thousand people voting for one MLA. That is not practical. The second issue is that constitutional provisions are for the welfare of the people. You might be thinking of the (implementation) of Schedule VI (which allows autonomous administrative divisions with some legislative, judicial, and administrative autonomy within a state).

Yes, that’s another demand that people have.

There’s nothing which we are not doing for the protection of the culture, tribal ambience and interests of the tribal people. Therefore, the constitutional amendment’s Schedule 6 is not even warranted. There is the issue of language (preservation). We have recently got sanction for recruitment of hundreds of Boti language teachers. They are going to teach the language and will promote their culture. There’s everything which the government of India and the Union territory administration is doing for the people. So, the demand might be there. It is a democracy, and they are justified. But the demands are already more than met.

And the councils have brought their own charter, they have got full support from the UT administration for the implementation of all the developmental programmes that are there for them. Now, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharat Vikas Yatra, the saturation of all schemes is being ensured. As a matter of fact, what the central government is doing for us is comparatively more than any other place. We have got sanction of ₹20,000 crore for solar power. It will provide immense employment for our people, for our youth and infrastructure, and in addition to that, there will be a surplus of power. We will be earning from that. So, what is being done today, probably nobody would have imagined that so much of development will take place.

Would you say there is lag in communication between the people and the government?

No, the common man knows everything that is being done for him. In a democracy, there will be some people who would have their political motives. There are parties there other than the ruling party and therefore these things are there. I have ensured the gap between the administration and the people is zero.

People are unhappy that the government has not addressed their concerns about outsiders getting land and jobs. There’s opposition to the industrial land acquisition policy.

The policy is put in the public domain for everyone to see. There is preference for local people and the land allotment prioritises our own people. It will be in exceptional cases where somebody (from outside) gets land. Similarly for jobs, the bonafide certificate of the residence of Ladakh is a must. I’ve been here for about 10 months. Not one square inch of land has been given to anybody, not a single job has been given to any outsider, nor has any outsider been promoted for any business in Ladakh.

That’s my policy. So, these are apprehensions, and these should not be there at all because I have always maintained Ladakh is for Ladakhis, not for taking anything from them, but for giving everything to them.

What are the priority areas in Ladakh right now?

Our area is 59,146 sq. km. Today, connectivity is very important and for that we want 4G saturation, but in that BSNL (bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd) has been very slow. When I go to far-flung villages, they say there’s no communication. I have asked for the work to be expedited. The other issue is of power lines; they have missed the target date. I’m very positive that it will pick up.

There are concerns that some grazing grounds are now out of bounds for locals and some political parties have raised the issue of Chinese incursions. They refer to satellite images and blame the government for not stating the extent of incursions.

After the 1962 Chinese aggression, that was one thing which happened, which the government of the day was not prepared for and the Chinese came. But today, the idea which we have about the Line of Actual Control, there is not a single step or boot of the Chinese which is on our side of that land.

The perception is that they are in our area, the Chinese say that we are in their area. We say that LAC runs along a particular place so there is a bit of clash of perceptions, but despite that, no Chinese boot in on this side of that area. As far as grazing land is concerned, land which was earlier there it is there. The deployment is along the no man’s land. That has to be maintained. And our boundary as per our perception runs in that no man’s land. When people say that they are not permitted to go anywhere, it is not that Chinese have come. It is because there is a no man’s land.

So, this propaganda is totally false propaganda, motivated propaganda. I think politically it is rumored that Chinese have occupied our land. Not even one square inch of ours is there in their possession. And it will not be; we are prepared.

You have been the governor of Arunachal Pradesh. Both Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh abut Tibet. What are the similarities you see in challenges that administration and troops face on the ground?

It is very unfortunate that before May 26, 2014, these were neglected places. Ever since Narendra Modi came, he started a concept of vibrant villages. He has started the concept of infrastructure, of how to make the troops capable of fighting; at that altitude, what would they require, by way of armaments, billets and by way of mobilisation and reaching fast to counter the Chinese.

We do not believe the Chinese. The parleys which are going on between the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) and the Indian Army, these are not progressing because Chinese have got sinister design.

But one thing is certain. The Chinese know that Indian leadership after Modi’s coming to power is not going to yield even one square inch of land to China. We’ll fight it out. We’ll stop them.

They know about it and therefore we are safe. We are determined because our leadership is determined and therefore, they are checked. India is not expansionist. We do not want to have wars. But if the Chinese come forward, we will also go in. It will not be one sided affair like 1962. I was in that war. I carry very hurt feelings about it because we had never expected it–that time it was Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai… Not even the top leadership of India that time had expected that the Chinese will ever attack India. Zhou Enlai was best friends with Jawaharlal Nehru. At that point a big mistake was made, that was neglecting the preparation of the armed forces to enable them to defend the border.

And it was due to that debacle that Field Marshall Ayub Khan attacked India in 1965, thinking that they are a light force. However, Indian army did very well, and the Pakistanis got a bloody nose.

Do you agree with India’s stance of not talking to Pakistan because many feel that talks should not be suspended.

No other Prime Minister of India has done so much to have good relations with Pakistan to the extent that Modiji went to the house of Nawaz Sharif (who was then Prime Minister of Pakistan).

He tried to have relations both with China and Pakistan. But in Pakistan, one doesn’t know who the ruler is; it keeps on changing everyday. If one can say that there is a man who should be given the Noble peace prize, it is him.

What are the priority areas in Ladakh right now?

Our area is 59,146 sq. km. Today, connectivity is very important and for that we want 4G saturation, but in that BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd) has been very slow. When I go to far-flung villages, they say there’s no communication. I have asked for the work to be expedited. The other issue is of power lines; they have missed the target date. I’m very positive that it will pick up.

Would you say there is lag in communication between the people and the government?

No, the common man knows everything that is being done for him. In a democracy, there will be some people who would have their political motives. There are parties there other than the ruling party and therefore these things are there. I have ensured the gap between the administration and the people is zero.




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