Sonam Wangchuk’s hunger strike for Ladakh continues

Wangchuk’s protest underscores the need for statehood and the implementation of the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution in Ladakh. The Sixth Schedule provides autonomy and protection for tribal areas, which Wangchuk and supporters believe is crucial for preserving Ladakh’s unique cultural and ecological identity.

| Updated: 20 March, 2024 1:09 pm IST

New Delhi: Renowned environmentalist and education reformist Sonam Wangchuk’s hunger strike in Leh, Ladakh, has reached its 15th day. Wangchuk, who inspired the character played by Aamir Khan in the popular Bollywood film “3 Idiots,” is protesting to demand constitutional safeguards for the Union Territory of Ladakh.

 

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A post shared by Sonam Wangchuk (@wangchuksworld)

Wangchuk’s protest underscores the need for statehood and the implementation of the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution in Ladakh. The Sixth Schedule provides autonomy and protection for tribal areas, which Wangchuk and supporters believe is crucial for preserving Ladakh’s unique cultural and ecological identity.

Since the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in 2019, Ladakh was designated as a Union Territory. However, this change has led to concerns about industrial exploitation and the potential harm to the region’s fragile ecosystem. Wangchuk argues that the Union Territory status has left Ladakh vulnerable to such threats.

 

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A post shared by Sonam Wangchuk (@wangchuksworld)

Among the demands are separate Lok Sabha seats for Leh and Kargil districts, a distinct recruitment process, and a dedicated Public Service Commission for Ladakh. These measures are seen as essential for ensuring fair representation and governance for the people of Ladakh.

The Central Government’s delay in addressing these issues has led to a sense of betrayal among Ladakh’s residents. Wangchuk has criticised the government for not fulfilling its promises, calling it a breach of trust that could set a negative precedent for future governance.

 

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A post shared by Sonam Wangchuk (@wangchuksworld)

The Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) has expressed solidarity with Wangchuk’s cause, calling for a half-day general strike. Wangchuk has also announced plans for a Border March to highlight Ladakh’s challenges to the outside world, emphasizing the loss of pasture land to industrial plants and Chinese encroachment.

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