Environmental Activist Sonam Wangchuk’s Hunger Strike and Advocacy for Ladakh’s Statehood

Sonam Wangchuk's Hunger Strike

Leh: In the stark and serene backdrop of Leh, environmentalist Sonam Wangchuk has been on a hunger strike since March 6. This peaceful protest began following unsuccessful discussions between the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), the central governing body, and the Indian government. The strike is a call for statehood and constitutional safeguards under the Sixth Schedule for the Union Territory of Ladakh.

Current Developments:
As the hunger strike entered its second week, Wangchuk announced plans for a ‘Border March’ to highlight the challenges faced by the local community. He shared on social media that 250 supporters joined him in solidarity, enduring sub-zero temperatures to emphasize the urgency of protecting Ladakh’s land, environment, and indigenous culture.

The Issues at Hand:
Wangchuk pointed out the threats to the nomadic communities of Ladakh, which are sandwiched between expansive industrial developments in the south of India and territorial encroachments from the north. The loss of grazing lands is a significant concern, prompting the planned march of 10,000 Ladakhi shepherds and farmers to demonstrate the “ground reality” of the situation.

Community Response:
In response to these events, the KDA has organized a half-day strike and a rally in Kargil city on March 20. This action is part of a broader movement demanding attention and action to address the region’s pressing issues.

Sonam Wangchuk's Hunger Strike

The ‘Border March’ and other such demonstrations are critical in bringing the plight of Ladakh to the forefront. These efforts seek to ensure that the voices of Ladakh’s people are heard and that their demands for statehood and constitutional protection are given the consideration they deserve.