Saturday, April 13
Climate activist Sonam Wangchuk ends 21-day-long hunger strike in Ladakh

Climate activist Sonam Wangchuk ends 21-day-long hunger strike in Ladakh


Leh: Climate activist Sonam Wangchuk on Tuesday evening ended his 21-day-long hunger strike in support of the demand for statehood for Ladakh and its inclusion in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

Earlier in the day, he made a fresh appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fulfil the promises made to the people of the Union Territory and also called upon people to use their franchise in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections “very carefully” in the interest of the nation.

“The first phase of the hunger strike is ending today but this is not the end of the agitation,” Wangchuk said after taking a glass of juice from a minor girl here amid a massive turnout of people at the protest venue.

The renowned education reformist said the end of the hunger strike is the beginning of the new phase of the ongoing agitation.

“We will continue our struggle (in support of our demands). The gathering of 10,000 people at the venue and participation of over 60,000 others over the past 20 days are a testimony of the people’s aspirations,” he said.

He said the struggle is an issue not only concerning Ladakh but the whole country. He lauded the people of different cities across the country for their support and said this has boosted their morale and he is confident of seeing the country becoming a great nation in the times to come.

Wangchuk has been on the “climate fast” in sub-zero temperatures since March 6, a day after talks between joint representatives of Leh-based Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), which are jointly spearheading the agitation to demand statehood for Ladakh and its inclusion in the Sixth Schedule, and the central government hit a deadlock.

The Sixth Schedule contains provisions related to the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram through autonomous district councils.

A three-day hunger strike, organised by the KDA in Kargil, also ended this evening. The Leh-based Apex Body and KDA will announce the future course of action on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, actor Prakash Raj on Tuesday visited Wangchuk, extended his support to their protest and said when the governments do not keep their promises, the people have no option but to unite and raise their voice in accordance with their constitutional rights.

“It’s my birthday today…and I’m celebrating by showing solidarity with @Wangchuk66 and the people of Ladakh who are fighting for us..our country..our environment and our future…let’s stand by them,” he wrote on X.

In video messages shared on X, Wangchuk reminding the prime minister of the promises made by the BJP in its election manifestoes and said Modi is a devotee of Lord Ram and should follow his teaching of ‘pran jaye par vachan na jaye’ (one may lose their life, but must not break their promise).

“While India is the mother of democracy, we citizens have a very special power. We are the kingmakers, we can compel a government to change their ways or change the government if that doesn’t work. Let us remember to use our ballot power very carefully this time in the interest of the nation,” said Wangchuk, whose life inspired Aamir Khan’s character Rancho in Bollywood blockbuster “3 Idiots”.

Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases from April 19 to June 1. Ladakh will go to polls in the fifth phase on May 20.

Over the past 20 days, Wangchuk said, around 60,000 of Ladakh’s three lakh residents have participated in the hunger strike demonstrating their pain but “no word came from this government”.

“We are trying to remind and awaken the consciousness of our Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to safeguard the fragile ecosystem of Himalayan mountains in Ladakh and the unique indigenous tribal cultures that thrive here.

“We do not think of Modi and Amit (Shah) as just politicians, we would rather like to think of them as statesmen and for that they will have to show some character and some farsightedness,” the climate activist said. (PTI)

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