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Opposition from the Muslim majority; why the Buddhist Temple movement in Kargil is gaining steam

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New Delhi, Jun 13: Communal tension is gripping Ladakh following a march by Buddhists, demanding for the construction of a monastery on a controversial land in Kargil.

Buddhist teacher and speaker Choekyong Palga Rinpoche of Ladakh is leading an 'Eco Pad Yatra' which was started from Leh towards Kargil on May 31. He aims to raise awareness for the restoration of the monastery (Gompa). However, a section of Muslims has raised objections to the 'Pad Yatra'.

 Leh: Muslims oppose temple construction

The Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), an amalgam of different political and religious parties based in Ladakh's Kargil region, has written to the Deputy Commissioner calling it a politically-motivated march which could disrupt the peace in Ladakh.

"The KDA has held a meeting with representatives of the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) regarding the issue of construction of a Gompa (monastery) in Kargil. Both bodies agreed that the issue must be resolved amicably," Tribune India quoted the KDA as saying in the letter.

However, the third person, who has no stake in the issue, is trying to disturb the peace through the march, the letter said. Even as the KDA and LBA are holding talks over the issue, the Kargil unit of the LBA has extended support to the monk.

Both the communities had come together last year to form an alliance, demanding for the 6th Schedule for Ladakh to safeguard their rights, Tribune reported.

Skarma Dadul, president of LBA Kargil, claimed that the Buddhists are not allowed to build a monastery in Kargil. "We don't want to create any tension, but it is our right to have a proper place of worship," he said.

While the Buddhists want to construct a monastery on a 2-kanal land, the Kargil residents oppose it citing 1969 a government notification, as per which the land can be used for commercial and residential purposes and a temple cannot be built.

Local had earlier told The Times of India that Buddhists were not living within the 20 km radius of the controversial land.

They further claimed that the current building on the land is a Buddhist guest house, and it should remain a guest house. Whereas, the Buddhists accused the locals of not allowing them to even carry out repair works on the building.

In 1961, the government of Jammu and Kashmir had given the land to Buddhists, but the government,
owing to the demand from the locals, changed its stance in 1969 stating that the land cannot be used to construct a temple, Chering Dorje, a former legislator and member of the LAB, told the daily.

Ladakh is home to about 300,000 people living in two districts - Leh and Kargil. While Buddhists are the dominant population in Leh, Kargil mainly has Muslim.

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