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Ladakh Confluence called off

New Delhi: Ladakh Confluence, billed as one of India`s largest music festivals, has been cancelled after Buddhist protests alleging that the event promotes "drugs, western culture and rocking music".

The festival which was scheduled to begin on July 15, was being organised in partnership with the J&K Tourism Ministry, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council and WWF.

But the government withdrew it`s support after All Ladakh Tour Operators Association (ALTOA) and Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) protested against the event.

"Our efforts to clarify were ignored, as have the facts that the Confluence is planned to be drug free, has declined generous sponsorships from alcohol companies," said a statement released by the organisers.

The festival in it`s second year, claims to promote the concept of "sustainable tourism", but P T Kunzang, General Secretary, LBA, labelled it "immoral".

"We are not going to let any such event or activity happen in the name of westernization. In the name of a musical concert last year, we saw that large number of outsiders who had come to attend carried drugs and under their influence our local youth were involved in drug abuse and alcohol intake," he was quoted as saying by a online daily.

The organisers of the festival meanwhile claim that vested interests are behind the protests and also alleged that they have received threats of physical violence.

"We have run into opposition from two local bodies, the All Ladakh Tour Operators Association (ALTOA) and the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA), led by the same individual. Worse, over the past few days, threats of physical violence have been made against us. Ironic, for these very bodies claim to defend and uphold peaceful Buddhist and Ladakhi culture," said the online statement.

Held against the backdrop of Ladakh`s stark mountainous landscapes at an altitude of 11,500 ft , the Confluence was attended by over 2,700 people last year.

PTI

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