Controversy Erupts in Ladakh as Government Renames Health Centers to “Ayushman Arogya Mandir”

Kargil, Jan. 27: In response to the directive from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, to rebrand medical aid centers/health and wellness centers as “Ayushman Arogya Mandir,” various political parties and religious organizations, including Indian National Congress, IKMT, JUAIK, Ladakh Buddhist Association, and Anjuman-e-Imam Zaman Sankoo, have expressed their discontent.

The District Congress Committee, Leh, stated in a press conference that the decision to rename the health facilities against the wishes of the general public was influenced by the absence of legislature in Ladakh.

In separate letters to the LAHDC’s (Leh and Kargil) and UT Administration, the religious and political organizations conveyed their concerns, emphasizing that renaming health centers as Mandir would undermine the primary purpose of a hospital. They deemed the move unfortunate and equivalent to playing with the sentiments of the locals in Ladakh.

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In their letters, they asserted that as a secular and democratic country, renaming government institutions as Mandir is unacceptable. The controversy gained momentum when Smanla Dorjay Nurbu, the president of the Youth Congress Committee, voiced his apprehensions in a video, suggesting that renaming the hospital as Mandir aims to erode the identity of the locals gradually. He highlighted the agenda of KDA and Apex Leh to safeguard the identity of Ladakhis.

Nurbu questioned the silence of higher authorities in Ladakh, wondering if it indicates acceptance of this decision. He urged the general public to raise questions and seek clarification from the authorities. He emphasized the distinction between a hospital, where people receive health treatment, and a Mandir, a place for worship.

Addressing the media a day later, the Director of Health explained that the directive was issued by the Ministry of Health on November 25, 2023, with the last day of implementation being December 31, 2023.

The District Congress Committee, Leh, announced in a press conference that they have written a letter to higher authorities, urging a review of the decision. Nurbu raised the question of whether the order from the Government of India should be applied or implemented, citing the example of Tamil Nadu government’s refusal to broadcast the “Ayusman Arogya Mandir” implementation on television due to their own legislature.

In the press conference, the Vice-President of Youth Congress Committee, Leh, asserted that renaming a hospital as Mandir is an assault on the Constitution of India, which declares India as a secular country treating all religions equally.

Both LAHDCs, acknowledging the public discontent, have sent letters to the LG Ladakh, urging his attention and an early resolution of the matter.


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