Ladakhi icon and educational reformer Sonam Wangchuk has announced that he will commence on a 21-day fast after he led a massive gathering of approximately 30,000 people at Leh’s Polo Ground to demand the Union territory’s inclusion under the 6th Schedule of the Constitution along with statehood. Posting on the social media platform X on Saturday, Wangchuk termed it as “LADAKH KI AKHIRI MANN KI BAAT” (The Final Word of Ladakh).
“LADAKH KI AKHIRI MANN KI BAAT 3rd Feb saw Ladakh’s biggest ever rally for restoration of democracy & Safeguards under 6th Schedule of constitution 20,000 people, quarter of Leh Ladakh’s adult population gathered,” he posted.
LADAKH KI AKHIRI MANN KI BAAT
3rd Feb saw Ladakh’s biggest ever rally for restoration of democracy & Safeguards under 6th Schedule of constitution
— Sonam Wangchuk (@Wangchuk66) February 3, 2024
In a post on Instagram, he informed that he would launch a protest soon.
According to Hindustan Times, Wangchuk did not mince words as he addressed the massive crowd, taking direct aim at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for what he described as a reluctance to address the longstanding demands of the Ladakhi people.
Amidst a complete shutdown in Ladakh on Saturday, the “Leh Chalo Andolan” (March to Leh Movement) was initiated by the Kargil Democratic Alliance and the Leh Apex Body, led by Buddhist spiritual leader Thupstan Chhewang and Wangchuk. The march, commencing from the NDS stadium to Polo Ground, braved harsh weather conditions with the minimum temperature recorded at minus eight degrees Celsius, HT’s report stated.
Apart from the demand for inclusion under the 6th Schedule of the Constitution, the Ladakhi people are advocating for statehood, two parliamentary seats, exclusive land and job rights, and the establishment of a public service commission, as per the report.
Reflecting the widespread support for the cause, most shops, businesses, and offices across Kargil and Leh remained closed, and transportation services experienced disruptions, the report mentioned.
The Home Ministry has extended an invitation to civil society leaders from Ladakh for the second round of high-powered committee dialogue scheduled for February 19, HT reported.
Sonam Wangchuk Defers 21-Day Fast Until Feb 19
In a notable development, Sonam Wangchuk, at the request of Thupstan Chhewang, deferred his planned 21-day fast until February 19, coinciding with the dialogue between the Union Home Ministry and Ladakh representatives.
“Chhewang urged Wangchuk to defer his fast and the latter conceded his request,” stated Tsering Namgyal, leader of the Opposition in Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council of Leh and councillor of the Leh City.
Chhewang expressed disappointment in the elected representatives, stating that they have fallen short of meeting the people’s expectations since Ladakh attained Union Territory status.
Last year, Wangchuk undertook a five-day fast highlighting Ladakh’s climate challenges and, on Republic Day 2023, initiated a “Climate Fast” at the Himalayan Institute of Alternative Ladakh (HIAL) aimed at securing constitutional protection for Ladakh’s ecologically fragile glaciers.
In a prior video titled ‘All is not well in Ladakh,’ Wangchuk appealed to the Prime Minister to intervene and protect the region under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Expressing concern over potential corporate expansion leading to resource shortages, especially water. He also highlighted the risk of glacier melting due to mining and similar activities.
Centre’s Meeting For Ladakh’s Demands
According to an NDTV report, the Centre has constituted a high-powered committee, headed by Minister of State (Home Affairs) Nityanand Rai, to address Ladakh’s demands.
The formation of Ladakh as a separate Union Territory in 2019, following the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, has spurred a collective sentiment of political disenfranchisement among the people of Leh and Kargil, the report mentioned. Over the past two years, they have consistently protested, seeking statehood and constitutional guarantees to preserve their land, jobs, and distinct identity.
Doonited Affiliated: Syndicate News Hunt