In a meeting with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, a delegation of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council flagged how the Chinese Army is using their nomad community near the border areas to transgress. On the other hand, the access of shepherds on the Indian side is restricted to pasturelands for grazing of livestock, which is severely impacting the lives of locals in remote areas.
A three-member delegation of the council met the defence minister on January 5 urging unrestricted access for the local population for grazing among other border development issues amid the India-China standoff since May last year that has impacted lives of people living close to the borders.
“We submit that we nomads on the Indian side are soldiers without uniform. The Indian Army must trust us by allowing our movements for grazing. In this regard, we kindly request it to grant us permission to move our shepherds with their livestock into traditional pasture lands as there is no substitute pastureland available in and around the village resulting in a mortality of livestock and loss of income to the villagers.”
The sparsely populated areas like Lukung, Yourgo and Phobrang lead to the northern bank of Pangong Lake that includes the Finger Area that has been a major friction point between the armies of India and China.
“They earn their livelihood via their livestock by producing World’s finest Pashmina and Yak wool. Whereas the Chinese use their nomad community to transgress on our land in a step-by-step approach,” a representation given by Konchok Stanzin, Councillor of Chushul said.
The representation given after discussions of the delegation with the defence minister in Delhi says the movements of the nomads belonging to this side of border are restricted by Indian Army from grazing their livestock on the traditional pastureland.
Last month Stanzin had put to pictures on Twitter saying China showing infrastructure development for nomads close to the borders in Demchok another area that has seen friction for the last 5-6 years now and continues to be volatile during the current standoff.
He says he’s hopeful of some quick action after the meeting with the defence minister. “The defence minister told us he will look into the issues and also write to the union home ministry as many things raised by us fell in its domain.”
The representation made also talks of border development programmes in these remote areas.
“The recent border skirmishes with China must give us a clarion call to secure our border villages by providing all developmental and infrastructural amenities. Investing in border areas not only fulfill the developmental needs, it also invests in the security of India.”
The delegation also raised issues related to mobile tower connectivity, electricity other amenities for the sparely populated border areas.