Almost from the last 10 years, the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir has been the eye-candy of every motorcycle enthusiast across the globe. Be it the 'world's highest motorable pass' or the serene Zanskar range or the 3 Idiots fame Pangong Tso, every guy who starts riding a motorcycle dreams or aspires to be there one day. But it seems that the road to salvation just got tougher. According to a circular being circulated by a self proclaimed 'Government Approved' body - ALBRU - it is now forbidden for the players from 'outside' to operate their motorcycles in the Ladakh region. This simply means, renting a bike from a local operator the moment you enter Ladakh or Zanskar which also means no guarantee of security of your motorcycle.
This is very disturbing for most of us as it not only threatens our fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution of India, but also makes us feel less secure in an already China infiltrated Ladakh region.
The Supreme Court of India has stated that for circulars or notifications to have the force of law, it has to contain a rule or body of rules regulating the conduct of a person or persons that can be, at the end of the day, be enforced in a court of law, by virtue of having been passed by a body that is authorised to do so. The question that remains as a result of this is – has the circular in question been issued by a body which had the requisite authorisation to issue it?
It is imperative that the Government of the State of Jammu & Kashmir clarifies whether the ALBRU is indeed an authorised body to pass this circular. Further, given that the circular mentions 'stern action' against those who do not comply with it, it should be made clear by the State Government that there is nothing stopping the non-local motorcycle tour operators from continuing their tours as they have been doing it for a few years now and that in the interest of the travellers, adequate action is taken against the ALBRU if it hampers the conduct of these tours.
The present picture is still not very clear on this alarming situation as the road to Leh from Manali side has not started functioning till this very moment. But whatever happens, we assume, there is going to be some uneasiness in the air which is surely going to affect the tourism in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and the regions of Ladakh and Zanskar, and is going to hassle none other than the innocent tourists who head to hills in order to find some peace.
Now that the season for these bike operators is hardly a few weeks away, we really expect this issue to be addressed soon, and the fact that many of the these tour operators might have already made bookings even before the circular was issued makes it all the more worrying.