Zanskar Muslims Face Starvation As Social Boycott By Buddhists Completes Three Years

News Desk

Muslims in Zanaskar region of Ladakh region are facing starvation due to a social boycott enforced by majority community of Buddhists three years ago.

Representational Pic

Representational Pic

The fresh appeals for help have fallen flat with the district administration of the mountainous region in Karil area of the province saying they are helpless.

The Buddhists, on the directions of Zanskar Buddhist Association (ZBA), enforced social boycott against Muslims three years ago after two dozen members of the majority community embraced Islam.

“We are on the verge of starvation. We seek intervention of Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed to save our lives. The majority community (Buddhists) has snapped all links with us,” a group of Muslims in Padum Zanskar told Srinagar-based news agency CNS.

They said their lives and properties are at risk and that they are feeling scared as the Buddhists “have been given free hand by the district administration.”

There are around a thousand Sunni Muslims who live in Zanskar.

Violent clashes erupted in the region on 24 October 2012 after 24 members from some Buddhist families embraced Islam at will.

Shortly after the incident, ZBA issued a diktat asking Buddhist people to snap ties with the Muslims.

Buddhist drivers refuse to even ferry school-going Muslim kids in their vehicles.

“I can’t ferry them to their school. There is social boycott and if I violate the order of ZBA, I will be punished,” said a Buddhist driver Skarma Lotus.

He revealed that ZBA imposes a fine of Rs 10,000 for any ‘violation’.

Shakil, a Muslim cab driver, said he is not allowed to enter into any Buddhist village with any foreign tourist in his vehicle.

“Last time, I was attacked by some goons at Sunni Village when I dropped a foreign traveler there. This way our living has been affected and we are unable to earn our day’s living,” he said and alleged that neither district administration Kargil nor the police have been taking the matter seriously.

Some Muslims even accused a nominated Councilor Phunchok Tashi and Executive Councilor Tsering Angdus of Ladakh Hill Development Council for the mess.

“These people instigate and foment trouble in the area. On the behest of these two people, ZBA issues new diktats on daily basis punishing those Buddhists who want to keep friendly terms with Muslims,” they said.

“It was on the directions of these two Councilors that Buddhists who had taken Muslim shops on rent vacated and they barred Buddhists from entering into any transactions with Muslims of the area,” they added.

“They wanted to force us to vacate this place. The entire administration belongs to them and takes their side,” said another Muslim resident, insisting not to be identified for fear of reprisal.

Accusing the district administration of acting as a mute spectator to the serious issue, Muslims appealed the Chief Mufti Muhammad Sayeed to intervene into the matter.

“Social boycott enforced by ZBA is affecting both the communities. Muslims being in minority suffer more as they don’t get labourers and other stuff freely. Besides, ZBA has controlled even the government vehicles and don’t allow Muslims to travel in them,” Ajay Kumar, a Nepali labour who has been visiting the area from past decade told CNS.

Deputy Commissioner Kargil Hasan Khan said that administration tried its best to persuade the ZBA to put an end to social boycott but they didn’t agree.

“We know Muslims have been suffering. At the moment we are helpless and can’t do anything,” Khan said.

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13 Comments

  1. zainab said:

    The choice of words in this article itself can instigate further hatred and violene between the two communities of Zanskar. Its important to double check the sources before filling a whole story based on his interpretation of things. No body is suffering and there is no prevailing situation as the writer say “verge of starvation”. This image of a monk with a gun is so irrelevant and is like adding fuel to fire. There is no boycott and people are going on with their daily life in a normal way. They know whatever happened was result of pity politics and a propoganda to divide the two communities. Its only people Zanskar who can make a diffrence by not letting outsiders to make false opinions. There is no dearth of oppurtunists who are ready to pounce on the marginalized and weak. Be united, rise your voice and fight back.
    Zainab
    A muslim from Zanskar

  2. lobzang wangtak said:

    First all let me tell you, the photo that whoever this sick journalist is has used a photo of a small kid playing around with a gun and that too is a Malaysian. These kind of journalists just show their unprofessional approach to deliver the raw and genuine news, actually I wonder if he even went to see the ground by himself. Everywhere in a society when there is a Minority and a majority does come across conflicts, people solve it with violence or nonviolence and you should thank that we chose the latter, there is no actual evidence of any atrocities, we need to find a mutual common ground to discuss such issues and solve it with dialogue, let me tell assure you Mr.”Journalist”, we are trying to solve it, maybe you should check this link https://sfdzanskar.wordpress.com/project-2015/. The situation has been quite calm for the past few years and please do not try to provoke the dormant volcano. You are not doing any better instead just making it worse, we are fed up of your so called “News”, stop that for pit’sake. You better remove this article as soon as you can, if you want to see a peaceful Zanskar. There are some of us who are educated enough to figure out what’s happening.
    Thank you

    • Tabrez said:

      Wangtak, You seem to have over-reacted on the use of the picture by the author, which clearly indicates your unwarranted malice. The picture, as the caption shows, is just for representation for Buddhists because generally people of this faith wear such a cloak. And which sort of non-violence are you talking about when Muslim driver pricks your balloon of non-violence by alleging that he was attacked for even daring to venture into Buddhist-dominated area?!

  3. Namgyal lokhel thiksay said:

    I am of the opinion that the senario in which such rigid attitude promted to promote by said organisation or not so in the manner exactly as it is emblished in the article is not justified towards both the community. it has content of polarization than just reporting a polarized incident: when dozen of Tibetan Buddhist converted to Tibetan Muslim. I read your Facebook wall post then read your link-article about social boycott and starvation faced by zanskari Sunni community from Buddhist of same ethnic blend. I have not cited disagreement on grounds that ‘it is informed’ (such discimination ) but ‘how it has tried to inform us’ that was the concern. The journalist curbed the idea of socially responsible journalism by reporting a human interest story enclosing a picture of not of zanskari people,place even not of people he had questioned or surveyed. Rather the photo is shop from Internet of a small monk of southeast Asian Buddhist country holding a toy or real gun: where in color and dress code is entirely different of the ‘order’ followed in zanskari Buddhist tradition. Concern is to say , what has expressed with the help of ‘what had shown’ contradicts in such manner that it all together gives very negative concept of his human interest story itself. Where in his own subjectivity intersect very much to discern. and a simple picture of the people and place of the area in report would have been a usual plain information. I commented because I felt article is ‘bit fabricated’ in intended-fashion.

  4. Jaap said:

    This is not possible, as stated Muslims only live in Padum in zanskar and there they are the majority inhabitants, a boycot would never work. This is a rubbish story with a political agenda. It is a pity that the buddhist people have been converted in other parts of this region. This is the real shame.

  5. Faizu said:

    Zanskar’s population is small, the April 2006 medical census records a population of 13,849 people. The medical census is the most accurate indicator of population as it collects birth, death, and census information from Zangskar’s 22 medical aid centers. Roughly 95% of the inhabitants practice Tibetan Buddhism, while the remainder are Sunni Muslims, whose ancestors settled in Padum and its environs in the 19th century. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zanskar

  6. Rigzin said:

    With all due respect to the writer of this article,I m quite amazed by the fact that the region mentioned by the writer is the Muslim majority area of the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. Where the state itself is the Muslim majority state with more than 70% of its population being Muslims. Hence Muslims being discriminated is a fact which I can’t digest. “Starvation”! Ladakh’s cut off from the rest of the world for more than 6 months of the year since hundreds of years , with only air travel as a medium of connectivity. So ladakhi people were self sustainable from the very beginning with every household owning lands to cultivate their own food to sustain themselves. So starvation could not be a possible phenomenon.Ladakhi people are known for their peaceful nature be it Muslims or Buddhists or Christians. So I think these situations are caused by some sick people with their diabolic nature to disrupt the harmony of the region. Muslims and Buddhists have been living peacefully for ages. This seems like a game played by the political giants to practice the infamous Divide and Rule.

  7. Momo said:

    I don’t know this country but I know well Thailand and Malaysia. Both are distinctively Bhudist and Muslim respectively, although southern Thailand is Muslim as well and southern Malaysia is more Chinese Bhudist. The differences in the people are huge: Muslims I encountered over the years were 99.9% well mannered, respectful, very friendly and their areas very safe, the idea of the foreigner being a cash cow is un-likely to occur in Malaysia except very small pockets. Although Thailand is also friendly, the similarities stop there. People can be very aggressive, lots of fights, drunkness, and can be outrageously rude and many don’t seem to care for the well being of foreigners. if you are a guy you get perhaps a different view as prostitution is very common and becoming rich by marriage to a foreigneir is every country women’s dream specially if she comes from the NE. So when people go on about on about how bad Muslims are and how good Bhudists are I know they haven’t met many of them. Both religions are good…but people don’t follow necessarily the ideologies in their day to day living.

  8. Jigmet said:

    I am wondering how it is possible in a area where majority is Muslim and Buddhist community is minor in kargil. One thing mentioned in the article was that a Muslim was beaten in a Muslim area how it was possible? And district administration in the hand of Buddhist where majority is Muslim where The LAHDC, kargil is running by Muslims and district commissioner itself is a Muslim? How it is possible that Buddhist can dominate Muslim?

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