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Safeguards in Ladakh | Prominent social activist Sonam Wangchuk's 'Climate Fast' enters 5th day

'Ladakh needs environmental safeguards, democratic process restored'
02:33 AM Mar 11, 2024 IST | Irfan Raina
safeguards in ladakh   prominent social activist sonam wangchuk s  climate fast  enters 5th day
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Kargil, Mar 10: Engineer, Innovator and environmental activist from Ladakh Sonam Wangchuk's '21-day climate fast' over environmental issues concerning the cold desert region entered into 5th day on Sunday.

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Wangchuk is seeking steps for environment conservation and implementation of the 6th Schedule of the Constitution for Ladakh besides restoration of democratic process in the Ladakh. These demands are also being raised by organisations like the Ladakh Apex Body and the Kargil Democratic Alliance.

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The Ladakh-based activist and Ramon Magsasay award winner whose life inspired a pivotal character in the Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots, one of the most successful in the history of Indian cinema, is on a fast for the last five days in freezing sub-zero emperatures to highlight the region’s vulnerability to climate change, and its link to rights accorded in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Wangchuk had announced to go on fast in protest against the failure of talks between LAB and KDA leaders recently who are seeking full statehood for Ladakh and constitutional safeguards under Sixth Schedule besides a Public service commission for Ladakh and separate parliament seats for Leh and Kargil districts. Wangchuk earlier last year had held similar climate fast to press for the region’s environmental safeguards and democratic rights for Ladakh.

Speaking to Greater Kashmir over phone from Leh, the prominent social-environmental activist Sonam Wangchuk said that he will hold the climate fast for 21 days and can be extended further even unto death if the demands and concerns are not addressed by the government of India. Wangchuk said, “Ladakh is a sensitive and crucial region with regard to both the environment as well as the presence of China and Pakistan across its borders. We want a solution to our issues peacefully without any disturbance or agitation.” He said the other motive behind his fast is to attract the attention of people around the globe, especially those living in the cities to make necessary changes in their lifestyles for saving the environment.

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“A sense of desperation was growing among the local residents over their unfulfilled demands, including safeguards under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and full statehood for Ladakh." I want to follow the same peaceful path that Mahatma Gandhi followed where we inflict pain on ourselves, where we don’t inflict pain on anyone else, we don’t take hostage anybody else, we take ourselves hostage, inflict pain on ourselves so that our government and policy makers notice our pain and act on time." He emphasised the need to protect the region from potential threats posed by business interests, mining operations, and industrial developments. Wangchuk said thousands more across Ladakh are observing fast and holding prayers and large number of locals have joined at NDS Stadium Leh since last five days.

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Sonam Wangchuk said that he is a social worker and working to protect the fragile environment of Ladakh, adding that he will not join politics at any time. " I am a social worker and remain so ,” adding that he is supporting the demands of LAB and KDA only to safeguard the fragile environment of Ladakh and ensure democratic rights to people. Wangchuk said that so far he has announced a 21day climate fast and will be extended further even unto death if the demands are not addressed.

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Meanwhile, earlier in the day prominent social-political activist from Kargil Sajad Hussain Kargili also met Sonam Wangchuk who is on a 21-day climate fast in Leh. Kargili extended heartfelt gratitude to Wangchuk for standing with the people of Ladakh and their demands.

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