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Ladakh Activist Sonam Wangchuk Commences 21-Day Climate Fast for Statehood and Sixth Schedule Recognition

Ladakh, the breathtaking region nestled in the Himalayas, is facing critical challenges related to its environment, culture, and identity. At the forefront of this battle stands Sonam Wangchuk, a prominent social activist and leader from Ladakh. Wangchuk has embarked on a 21-day climate fast, drawing attention to urgent issues that demand immediate action.

The Demands

Wangchuk’s hunger strike, which commenced on March 6, centers around two crucial demands:

  1. Recognition of the Sixth Schedule Status: The Sixth Schedule, a provision of the Indian Constitution, grants special status and protection to tribal areas. Ladakh seeks this recognition to empower itself with greater autonomy in decision-making concerning land, resources, and cultural preservation.
  2. Statehood for Ladakh: Ladakh’s political and social groups advocate for statehood to safeguard its fragile ecology and unique culture. They also emphasize the need for separate Lok Sabha seats for Kargil and Leh districts.

Inspired by Gandhi

Wangchuk’s fast is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s peaceful path for India’s independence. In his own words, “By engaging in such a fast, we are hurting ourselves instead of harming anyone else.” The 21-day fast mirrors Gandhi’s commitment to non-violence and sacrifice for a greater cause.

The Significance of the Sixth Schedule

The people of Ladakh have grappled with issues of identity, autonomy, and development for decades. The demand for the Sixth Schedule is viewed as a crucial step in addressing these concerns. If granted, it would empower Ladakh with greater decision-making authority, particularly concerning land, resources, and cultural preservation.

Widespread Support and Solidarity

As news of Wangchuk’s fast spreads, it garners widespread support and solidarity from the people of Ladakh. Social media platforms overflow with messages urging the government to heed Wangchuk’s demands and promptly address the grievances of the region. Last year, after intense protests and hunger strikes led by Wangchuk and others, the government finally recognized the movement and entered negotiations with Ladakh representatives.

A Sacrifice for Ladakh’s Future

Sonam Wangchuk’s sacrifice echoes through the Himalayan mountains, resonating with the urgency of preserving Ladakh’s pristine beauty, rich heritage, and fragile ecosystem. As the hunger strike continues, Ladakh’s fate hangs in the balance, awaiting a positive resolution that will safeguard its unique identity and environment.

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