Sonam Wangchuk ends 21-Day hunger strike in Ladakh

Sonam Wangchuk Ends 21-Day Hunger Strike for Ladakh’s Statehood and Environmental Protection.

| Updated: 27 March, 2024 2:53 pm IST

Leh: After 21 days of sustaining solely on salt and water, Sonam Wangchuk, a prominent climate advocate and champion of educational reform, concluded his hunger strike aimed at advocating for Ladakh’s statehood and preserving the delicate Himalayan ecosystem. Wangchuk emphasised that this marked the end of the initial phase of his campaign and reiterated his commitment to continue his struggle.

“I will persist in advocating for constitutional protections for Ladakh and the political rights of its people,” he declared. Wangchuk had commenced his ‘climate fast’ amidst sub-zero temperatures on March 6, following discussions between representatives of the Apex Body based in Leh and the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA). These groups are jointly leading the movement to demand statehood for Ladakh and its inclusion in the Sixth Schedule after negotiations with the central government hit an impasse.

READ MORE : Sonam Wangchuk’s hunger strike for Ladakh continues

On the preceding night, approximately 350 individuals braved minus 10-degree Celsius temperatures to sleep alongside Wangchuk, while around 5,000 joined him during the day on Tuesday. Recent talks between the Centre and a sub-committee of Ladakh leaders failed to yield results. A high-powered committee (HPC) chaired by Union minister Nityanand Rai had formed a sub-committee to discuss demands related to the Sixth Schedule, statehood, and other associated issues.

 

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Expressing disappointment with the BJP administration, Wangchuk urged voters to wield their electoral power wisely in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, stressing the need for political foresight and responsibility.

In an earlier video, Wangchuk emphasized that his climate fast serves as a reminder to the Indian government of their pledge to protect the fragile Himalayan region and uphold democracy. He highlighted the plight of Ladakhi nomadic tribes losing grazing land to both Indian corporations and encroachment from China along the India-China border.

He also called for a border march for an “on-ground check” of this encroachment, likely on March 27. “10,000 Ladakhis people will March to the borders. Wangchuk added that the nomadic leaders, who he will march with will show us how far they used to go grazing earlier and now where they have to stop.

However, it is not clear so far whether they will be allowed to march to the India-China border. The other possible date for the march is April 7. Actor Prakash Raj marked his birthday by standing in solidarity with Wangchuk’s hunger strike in Ladakh. “Let’s stand by them, our country, our environment, and our future,” he stated in a social media post.

Wangchuk’s fast has garnered support from various socio-political organizations in Ladakh, including the Kargil Democratic Alliance, whose members are also participating in hunger strikes in Kargil.

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