A campaign for a monastery in Muslim-dominated Kargil has Ladakh on edge

An ‘apolitical’ Buddhist monk has revived a 50-year-old dispute over a religious site. Now he also has the blessing of the BJP.

The site of the gompa is at the centre of Kargil town. It’s bare except for two mud houses on the side, marked by Buddhist flags. There are portraits of the Dalai Lama and Buddhist deities inside, along with puja paraphernalia. The doors remain locked through the day.

X, a student at a local college, comes to the temple site twice a day. She unlocks the door of one of the houses, pours vegetable oil in the lamp, lights it, and then locks up. She’s been doing it for a year. After she graduates, there’ll be someone else.

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Omkar Khandekar

Omkar specializes in long-form narrative features and has reported from India, the UK, Germany and the Maldives. He writes across beats, from politics and crime to cinema and sports. His works have been published in Indian and international outlets including The Caravan, Mint Lounge, the BBC, Al Jazeera and The Huffington Post.

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