Zee News has published a report which shows people marching across a hilly landscape. The media outlet shared this footage with the claim that it shows a "clash" between the Buddhist community and the Muslim community in Kargil in Ladakh.
The Logical Indian Fact Check team has debunked fake news reported by Zee News in the past. In April, the media outlet had circulated a misleading report which alleged that Owaisi's supporters raised slogans of 'Pakistan Zindabad' in a rally. We debunked the viral claim in our Fact Check.
The 2-minute video report by Zee News shows a large crowd marching across a hilly area. The people in the crowd can be seen marching towards a particular location shot from multiple angles. The footage is interspersed with stock footage of Buddhist monks and the Leh Ladakh area.
The statements in the video are as follows, "Out of the sight of everyone in the nation, an incident took place in Ladakh. The entire nation is unaware of this incident in Ladakh. This incident needs to be seen by everyone in India to understand why the peace-loving and non-violent Buddhists suddenly became enraged.
Actually, Maulvis and radical persons have stopped the Buddhists from establishing a temple in Ladakh. This has led the angry minority community of Buddhists in the area to clash against the Muslims.
In areas dominated by the Muslim majority population, Buddhists have carried out protests and clashed with the Muslims to defend their religion. Thousands of Buddhists have marched against the Maulvis and radicals. Let us inform you that this clash dates back decades".
Then, the narrator states that the alleged dispute is due to the continuous objection by the local Muslim community against the construction of a Gompa (a Buddhist religious site) in the area. The video continues, "But now the Buddhists have intensified their protests. They have launched a yatra from Leh to Kargil which witnessed participation from thousands of Buddhists. They have demanded the construction of their religious site through this yatra."
The video report has received over 2.7 million views on YouTube till the time of writing. The video is also viral across Facebook and Twitter.
Zee News also shared the video report on Facebook which has garnered over 42 thousand likes and over 5.4 thousand shares.
The Logical Indian fact check team verified the viral claim and found it to be false. No 'clash' took place between the Muslim and Buddhist communities in Kargil.
We used InVid's Keyframe Analysis tool to isolate the keyframes from the video report. One of the isolated keyframes led us to a YouTube video which documented the march that was carried out in Kargil. The following video was uploaded by user Ladakhs pa on June 6, 2022.
Taking a cue from this report, we conducted a keyword search for the relevant keywords such as 'Muslim Buddhist clashes Ladakh'. We came across this report published by Firstpost on June 14, 2022.
This report, titled, 'Kargil: Buddhists stage massive protest after Muslim clerics obstruct renovation of monastery' detailed how Buddhist minorities in Kargil had objected to the Muslim majority who opposed the reconstruction work of an ancient Gompa (Buddhist monastery). Buddhists in Kargil held rallies to express their anger toward Muslim clerics, the report states. The report also mentions that Buddhist teacher and speaker Choekyong Palga Rinpoche plans to raise awareness for the restoration of the Gompa (Buddhist monastery).
Firstpost stated that he would be leading an 'Eco Pad Yatra' from Leh towards Kargil on 31 May. However, a section of Muslims in Kargil had objected to it.
As per Firstpost, the historical context of the controversy stretches back to 1961. The report states, "As per reports, on 15 March 1961, the then-Government of Jammu & Kashmir, General Department, Ladakh Affairs, sanctioned the land to Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) for the construction of Buddhist Temple and Sarai. It was clearly mentioned in the order that religious construction was allowed on the land."
The report states that the government issued another order in 1969, underlining that the land allotted to LBA could only be used for the construction of residential or commercial buildings. The government refused to allow religious construction on the land.
Considering this, we conducted another keyword search to understand how the Pad Yatra was carried out by Buddhist teacher Choekyong Palga Rinpoche. We came across the Facebook page of Palga Rinpoche. This post on his page gave more information about on the locations, march was to be held.
As per this post and media reports, the march took place from May 31 to June 14, to raise awareness and demand the restoration of the Kargil Gompa.
We came across a The Hindu report which detailed the history behind the controversial land and the stance of the parties in the dispute. The report published on June 15, 2022, stated that officials in the L-G administration intervened to stop the 'peace march' by Choskyong Palga Rinpoche. He was stopped at Mulbekh, around 35 km away from the Kargil town.
The Hindu report states, that Rinpoche's protests to set up a monastery in Kargil were opposed by the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), a collection of several religious and political parties based in Muslim-majority Kargil.
The report quotes Sajjad Kargili, a member of the Kargil Democratic Alliance. Kargili stated, "We thank the Lieutenant Governor and the deputy commissioner for their role in stopping the so-called peace march, which had the potential to stoke passions and fuel tension between the two communities."
Sajjad Kargili is quoted as saying that a deliberate attempt was being made to divide and create fault lines in the area. He remarks that the Kargil Democratic Alliance is in touch with the Ladakh Buddhist Association to find an amicable solution. The Hindu report provides the historical background of the issue as follows.
Meanwhile, the report quotes Thupstan Chhewang, president of the LBA, saying a religious event has been happening at the site for many years, and it was held in 2022 too. "There is a demand to set up a Gompa on the land that was granted to the LBA. 'We are pursuing this issue peacefully', the report quotes Chhewang.
"We demand that the 1961 order should be restored. Else, we will make a representation to have a Gompa at the site. We are aiming to construct it with the help of the local population," he added.
We also came across a report by News18 which detailed the stances of the Ladakh Buddhist Association and Kargil Democratic Alliance. As per the News18 report published on June 13, 2022, Muslim religious organisations had expressed their reservations against the rally. They had termed it as a "breach of an agreement between the leadership of the LBA and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA)."
In the report, Thupstan Chhewang's objection to the rally is noted quoting him as stating that the rally is "politically motivated". Chhewang is a two-time Member of Parliament from Ladakh and a former Bharatiya Janata Party leader.
The News18 report also contained an image of the original 1969 order by the then Government of Jammu and Kashmir which said that the land would be used for residential and commercial purposes.
The report also provided details about the negotiations between the KDA and LBA who held a series of meetings over the Gompa land. Leaders of both organisations are determined to find a permanent solution to the issue through dialogue, as per the report.
The Kargil unit of the Ladakh Buddhist Association is adamant about holding a rally and holding a symbolic puja near the site. However, the KDA has asserted that the government of Jammu and Kashmir had ordered against the use of the land for religious activities in 1969.
We came across a letter to the District Magistrate in Kargil by the Kargil Democratic Alliance calling for action against the march that was held demanding the reconstruction of the Kargil Gompa.
The letter states, "Both the bodies unanimously agreed that the issue must be solved amicably and by general consensus of the main stakeholders…Under such circumstances, a third party who has no stake in the matter, conducting a march for construction of gompa in Kargil has no other purpose but to disrupt the communal harmony of Kargil and create chaos."
The "third-party" refers to the march carried out by Chokyong Palga Rinpoche.
The News18 report also added the stance of the BJP Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal.
We then conducted another keyword search and came across a statement by Palga Rinpoche on the news channel News Nation. In the video uploaded to YouTube on June 15, 2022, Rinpoche can be heard recounting the history of the controversial land. At the 1.31 mark he says, "In 1969, the order was changed by the then Jammu and Kashmir government to prohibit any religious construction on the site. In spite of this, we have held prayers at the site but we haven't been allowed to reconstruct the site."
He asserted that the land belonged to the Ladakh Buddhist Association and asserted that LBA shall act autonomously to determine the use of the land. "There was no political influence or undertone to our movement", he also stated. Talking about the number of people present at the pad yatra, from 7.35 mark in the video he says, "For the Pad Yatra, I was followed by a core team of around 200-300 people. Hundreds of people from nearby villages joined us in the yatra and the number of attendees may even have gone up to a thousand."
In our keyword search, we also came across a video report by JK 24X7 News Ladakh. The report is an interview with LBA President Thupstan Tsewang. In the conversation, Tsewang asserts that the LBA has been working towards restoring the Kargil Gompa which has become the centre of much controversy.
At the 6.00 mark in the video, he remarks, "After Palga Rimonche had declared his pad yatra, we had requested him that the issue is being discussed with all parties. We want the issue to be resolved amicably and with everyone's cooperation.
We are talking with several organisations in Kargil for an amicable solution and that is why we don't think it is ideal for laying the foundation stone currently. We had guessed that the march would be stopped."
We also came across a Tweet that included a press release by LBA and KDA. The tweet was published by Syed Mohammad Shah, a member of the KDA. The press release is signed by Thupstan Chhewang President, Ladakh Buddhist Association, Qamar Ali Akhone, Co-Chairman of KDA, Chering Dorjay Lakruk Senior Vice President, Ladakh Buddhist Association and Haji Asgar Ali Karbalai, Co-Chairman of KDA
In our Fact Check, we came across no mention of a 'clash' that took place between the Muslim and Buddhist communities in Kargil. The protests that took place were of a peaceful nature and were resolved without any incident of outward violence.
The incident is also rooted in a historical context which was missing from the report by Zee News. The two leading parties in the discussion, the Kargil Democratic Alliance and the Ladakh Buddhist Association have been working towards an amicable solution to the problem without much success. The march held by Palga Rimonche which was shown in the Zee News report was held for laying a foundation stone in Kargil and was not the leading cause to any clashes. Additionally, the LBA president was not in agreement with the march organised by Rimonche.
Thus, we are able to ascertain that a historical issue has been portrayed by ZeeNews in a misleading manner using rousing narration to promote an intensely communalised image of the incident.
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