The Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) is up in arms against the PDP-BJP government in Jammu & Kashmir and has decided to approach Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resolve the growing feud between Buddhists and Muslims. The discord appears to have intensified after a 30-year-old Buddhist woman married a 32-year-old Shia man last year after converting to Islam.
Top LBA official P T Kunzang told TOI that a Buddhist delegation has been seeking appointment with the PM to apprise him about the situation, but is not getting an audience with him.
The dominant feeling among the Buddhists here, who comprise a thin majority — around 51% of Ladakh’s population to 49% Muslims — is that the state machinery is consistently ignoring instances of conversion of Buddhist girls to Islam through wedlock.
Murtaza Agha, 32, of Drass in Kargil, married Buddhist girl, who changed her name to Shifah after conversion, sometime in 2016. While Shifah wrote to Mehbooba stating that she had married Murtaza of her own volition as they had fallen in love while working in a Delhi-based NGO, the Buddhist association stresses that her consent was obtained under duress.
According to details available with Nayeema Mahajoor, chairperson of the state women’s commission, Shifah had solemnized the marriage in Bangalore in 2016 after converting to Islam in 2015.
Meanwhile, the J&K high court has directed authorities not to harass the couple following a statement by the Buddhist woman before the court. However, Kunzang alleged that the government was cleansing the state of its Buddhists. “We will fight against this till the last drop of our blood,” he said.
Young Buddhist girls, another Ladakhi official said, were being lured by Muslims in various parts of the region by posing as Buddhists. However, girls learn after marriage that they’ve married Muslims, the official said.
Since 2003, more than 45 girls have married Muslim boys and claim to have done so of their own free will. “They give such statements under threat,” Kunzang alleged.
The Hindustan Times reports that LBA has written a letter to CM Mehbooba Mufti on the issue. “Young girls are being lured by Muslim boys to marry and finally convert them to Muslim… we have repeatedly asked the Muslim community leaders… to sensitise their communities to stay away from such wicked and depraved act which otherwise will lead to communal unrest, and the district administration will be solely responsible,” reads the letter, dated September 7.
The letter, signed by LBA president Tsewang Thinles, also urged the state government to intervene immediately and make arrangements to “bring back the girl” before “peace, tranquillity and communal harmony takes an ugly turn”.
The controversy comes amid rising tensions between the Muslim-majority Kargil region and the Buddhist-dominated Leh region over the LBA’s demand for UT status with legislative power to Ladakh region — an appeal opposed by Muslim leaders from Kargil. Ladakh-based groups say they have been historically discriminated against and received little funds to develop the sparsely populated region.
The article ‘Calling the Pro-Pakistan Kashmiri bluff‘ by RSN Singh has a good map which explains the geographical and sociological reality of the state of J&K, and how the narrative has been hijacked by the Islamists in Kashmir valley –
The various regions within the Indian territory, as part of the total, measure as follows:
|Map Reference||Region||Area (Sq.Km)||Percentage|
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