Badari Deshpande of Burn Boundaries posted a heart breaking update on his Facebook earlier today. The update read –
“Latest update from Ladakh
1) Agam shayok – route. Banned
2) Merak-chushul-tsagala – Route banned
3) Hanle – No permission entire season
All this thanks to 4 bikers who went to Umling-la without permission 2 days back.
Authorities in Ladakh taking the easy way out – BAN Traveller from going.
2018 – Ladakh FORGET it. Go somewhere else.”
As per reports, some bikers reached Umling La without taking necessary permits. They then posted photos and videos along with exact GPS co-ordinates of the route on social media. This is what created the problem with authorities in Ladakh, said the report.
Sudeep Chakraborty from Ahmedabad, who has been among the first few bikers to reach Umling La, had to say this – “Not the fault of those four people but it’s the fault of those who made videos and posted detailed coordinates all over the damned internet and claiming one doesn’t need permit for those areas. This false info will inspire such people who will attempt this without knowing the crux and thus this is the end expected result.”
Another update from Utsav Chs, who is admin of the ‘Ladakh Return‘ Group on Facebook, read –
“Umling La, Marsmik La, Depsang La & Saser La :
In the last few days a total of 4 groups have attempted Umling La. Of which one group only was allowed and they were the first ones. But their digital data was wiped clean of the shots taken in and near Umling. The rest 3 groups were not allowed to visit Umling La.
Umling has been getting lots of attention this season. ITBP has asked DC Leh not to approve travel requests to the area. (unverified info). The security forces are very resistant to allow travelers, especially bikers. (verified info)
It is being deemed that Umling along with Marsmik are strategic points and are being pushed to be promoted to the status of Depsang and Saser La where no civilians are allowed.
It seems that this development from the security forces have been due to a certain information packet containing the accurate GPS data of these classified strategic border locations going viral all over the social media.
A request to people who are able to visit these strategic locations is not to make GPS data available. These location based info of these highly classified areas are kept classified for security purposes. We do record data of such places innocently for vlogging, blogging purposes so to help people visit them. But do realize the sensitivity of these information in the wrong hands can jeopardize national security.
I was hesitant to put this post here, but after discussing with Dk Pandit sir, here it is.
This is for informational purpose only.
Who ever trying to visit Umling, do give it a try. Who knows, you just might be in luck!
All the best and Ride safe!”
Admin of BCMTouring, Yogesh Sarkar also posted an informative update – “There are rumors that civilian access to the Agham – Shyok Route, Chushul, Hanle and Umling La has been stopped and the DC Office has stopped issuing permit for Chushul and Hanle (permit was never issued for Agham-Shyok route or Umling La.)
Firstly, the rumor is partially true. Leh Administration is expected to take a call on whether or not to stop issuing permit for Hanle in the coming days.
This is mainly due to the fact that those having permit for Hanle, have been going to Photi La and Umling La (these weren’t open for civilians.) This has irked both the army and the administration and as a result, the administration is contemplating scrapping the permit for Hanle. Since the area around Hanle is quite close to the LAC (Line of Actual Control) and thus quite sensitive.
The armed forces are also irked by the fact that videos have been posted online showing the entire route, along with GPS maps and people are attempting Umling La without any permission (few bikers and their backup vehicle were recently caught and detained by the armed forces en route to Umling La.)”
You can read the full thread here.
What is Reality?
Rushlane spoke with officials at Office of the District Magistrate in Leh. As per them, the orders are not yet out. There are some issues with bikers who went beyond the permitted route, thus the confusion. But, it is true that authorities are seriously considering of banning the said routes for 2018.
Authorities are currently discussing all possible alternatives, and no such ban has been officially announced.