Thousands of people in Kargil spent Monday night on the roads braving the -17 degree Celsius temperature to protest against the administration’s decision to create a separate division for Ladakh region with its headquarters in Leh, NDTV reported on Tuesday

Protests had erupted on Monday evening when the divisional commissioner of the newly-created Ladakh division tried to visit Kargil. Thousands of people staged a march and blocked his entry into the town, forcing him to return.

The protesters are demanding that the officials function on a rotational basis – in Kargil during summers and in Leh during winters.

On Monday, all shops and other business establishments in Kargil were closed, while vehicles stayed off the roads, according to Greater Kashmir. Local leaders in Kargil had called for the shutdown.

Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik on Monday said the government has formed a committee of secretaries to address these protests. “The divisional status for Ladakh was a long-standing demand [of the people of the region],” Malik said. “We have formed a committee of secretaries which will look into the issue so that Kargil gets justice.”

Residents of Kargil and local leaders affiliated to political parties also staged a rally in Jammu on Monday morning. Legislative council chairman Haji Anayat Ali said they welcomed the decision on Ladakh division, but they were unhappy with the discrimination against Kargil. “We seek justice for entire Ladakh. Our protest is under national tricolour because we have full faith in the Constitution of India which guarantees equal rights to every citizen,” Ali told Greater Kashmir.

Ladakh division will have two districts – Kargil and Leh. The region is one of the most sparsely populated areas in the state and has a population of about 2,84,000 people, according to the 2011 survey, reported News18. Of this, 39% are Buddhists predominantly in the Leh region, 46% Muslims mostly in the Kargil region and 12% Hindus.