Sonam Wangchuk's 5-day climate fast to begin from Republic Day; says 'all is not well' in appeal to PM Modi
Innovator Sonam Wangchuk said, "I'm going on hunger strike from January 26, 2023, Republic Day. Republic Day marks the adoption of India's Constitution. I'm not going on a hunger strike at home. I'll do it on the road and in the cold. I will not embark on a hunger strike at Leh but rather near the Khardungla."
In his latest video message, Ladakh education reformer Sonam Wangchuk said he would commence a five-day fast from Republic Day over climate challenges affecting Ladakh. This fast will be unique as Wangchuk will hold it at Khardungla at 18,000 ft at -40 degrees Celsius.
Wangchuk, in his video 'All is not well in Ladakh', said, "I'm going on hunger strike from January 26, 2023, Republic Day. Republic Day marks the adoption of India's Constitution. I'm not going on a hunger strike at home. I'll do it on the road and in the cold. I will not embark on a hunger strike at Leh, but rather near the Khardungla,"
In his 13-minute long video, he added, "The temperature in this region drops to -40 degrees Celsius. I shall go on a hunger strike under the shades of these glaciers to send a message to the rest of the world. If I survived, I would see you again."
Ladakh, also known as the world's 'third pole,' is experiencing grave concerns; Wangchuk stressed in his video that he refers to the 6th Schedule and the protests connected to it. Locals have been pushing for Ladakh to be included in the Sixth Schedule to ensure general economic development and decision-making autonomy, and this topic has already been discussed in Parliament.
Wangchuk said, "Ladakh has over 95 per cent of the tribal population although the Constitution demands 50 per cent of the tribal population in an area for applicability of 6th Schedule. Ladakh was expected to be included soon. Minister Arjun Munda also provided assurances."
He also highlighted that the BJP's victory in the 2020 Ladakh Hill Council elections and the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019 resulted in Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir forming two independent union regions. He stressed, "People of Ladakh are stunned that the government that responded to its 70-year-old demand for a union territory has not been heeding this demand."
He expresses concern about the possibility of businesses expanding in the union territory, which will add additional strain on limited resources such as water. "Mining and similar operations have the potential to melt glaciers.
Besides temperature, he said, Ladakh is strategically important for military purposes, and the people of Ladakh have fought with China and Pakistan in many wars since 1948."
In conclusion, Wangchuk appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to engage in high-level dialogue with the people of Ladakh.