Ladakh Becomes First Buddhist-majority Union Territory in India

For decades Buddhist leaders have campaigned for separation

Over the course of two days, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) divided Jammu and Kashmir into two territories . They are known as Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, a new territory in India. Siyam Nikaya’s Asgiriya Chapters and Mahanayake Theras of the Malwatte, from Sri Lanka, welcomed the move from the Indian government.

Both religious bodies favored the decision since Ladakh is a Buddhist-majority community. By marking this region as a union territory, they expect the ties between India and Sri Lanka to become stronger.

Malwatte Chapter’s Tibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Maha Nayake Thera stated the move safeguarded the harmony of this area. Asgiriya Chapter’s Warakagoda Sri Gnanaratane Mahanayake Thera added this move would make it easier for pilgrims to reach Ladakh.

Pakistan and China weren’t happy with the decision by the Indian government. Pakistan stated it would be stopping trade with India. They dismissed top Indian diplomats while threatening to prevent India’s aircraft from entering their airspace.

Ladakh is similar to Chandigarh, and both regions don’t have legislative assemblies. As it is a union territory, it will be under the central government. The population of Ladakh is happy about the move.

For decades, Buddhist leaders from this region held several campaigns. The aim was to get the Indian government to identify this area separate from Jammu and Kashmir.

Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, a member of Parliament (MP) from Ladakh, highlighted the importance of this move. According to him, this region wasn’t a part of several development initiatives. He added that the ruling party of India, BJP, corrected the mistakes made by Congress under Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

Ladakh’s Buddhist Association’s President appealed to the former leader to either join this region East Punjab or bring it under the central administration. He requested the Congress government to avoid making it a part of Kashmir, due to vast differences in the communities of these areas.

The major differentiator is that Ladakh’s population is more than 70 percent Buddhists, while Kashmir is Muslim dominated. Several residents in Kashmir are against Indian rule because they want to become a part of Pakistan or gain national independence.

However, Congress didn’t listen to the demands of the Buddhist Association and this region didn’t develop as expected.

Drupka school of Buddhism head, Gyalwang Drukpa, expressed his gratitude to Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister for this decision.

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