Updated April 6th, 2024 at 23:02 IST

Climate Activist Sonam Wangchuk Announces ‘Border March’ To Highlight Ground Realities in Ladakh

Climate activist Sonam Wangchuk on Wednesday announced the agitation to demand statehood for Ladakh will be intensified and a 'border march' will be held on April 7 in the eastern part of the Union territory to highlight ground realities, including alleged encroachments by China.

Climate Activist Sonam Wangchuk Announces ‘Border March’ To Highlight Ground Realities in Ladakh | Image:@X
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Leh: Climate activist Sonam Wangchuk on Wednesday announced the agitation to demand statehood for Ladakh will be intensified and a 'border march' will be held on April 7 in the eastern part of the Union territory to highlight ground realities, including alleged encroachments by China.

Wangchuk, who is part of the Leh-based Apex body that comprises social, religious and political organisations, said they are adopting the Gandhian approach in their agitation, which is vital to safeguard the fragile environment of the region and the indigenous character of its population.

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"We are followers of (Mahatma) Gandhi's Satyagraha. We are demanding the fulfilment of the promises made to us by this (BJP) government through its manifestos which led its candidates to win parliamentary polls (in 2019) and hill council polls in Leh (2020)," he told a gathering here.

The activist 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 on Tuesday evening.

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"The first phase of the hunger strike will be followed by a chain hunger strike by women, youths, religious leaders and elders. On April 7, we will launch a march to Changthang (in the east of Leh along the border with China) like Gandhi's Dandi March under the Civil Disobedience Movement," Wangchuk said.

He said the Leh-based Apex body will lead the march to highlight the ground realities of Ladakh. Wangchuk alleged that nomads were losing prime pasture land to huge industrial plants to the south and Chinese encroachments to the north.

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"The Changthang grazers, famous for producing Pashmina wool, are being forced to sell their animals because over 20,000 acres of grazing land was taken by industrialists to set up their plants... we do not want solar energy at the cost of our people's livelihood and dislocation," he claimed.

"They are taking away our land because there are no safeguards available...," Wangchuk alleged.

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He said if the government has nothing to hide, "we will be allowed to proceed but if they stop us from undertaking the march, we will launch a 'jail bharo andolan' which will be followed by a non-cooperation movement." Accusing the BJP of backtracking from its promises to the people of Ladakh, Wangchuk said the representatives of the Apex Body and the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) were left shocked when the Union home ministry straightway rejected their demands on March 4.

"We are seeking our rights and fulfilment of the promises. Parliamentary polls have been announced and the BJP is again making various guarantees to the people but who is going to buy these promises this time," he said, expressing hope that the government will reconsider its decision and announce statehood to Ladakh.

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Wangchuk added that he was ready to go on a hunger strike once again if the demands of the people of Ladakh were not met as "we are fighting for our future and the children".

He also questioned claims of pumping large amounts of money and demanded an inquiry into where the money is being spent.

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The Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), separate groupings of various political, social and religious organisations, are jointly spearheading the agitation to demand statehood for Ladakh and its inclusion in the Sixth Schedule, and have held five rounds of talks with the home ministry.

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

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Published March 27th, 2024 at 19:21 IST