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Sonam Wangchuk: Will Launch Fast Unto Death From Feb 19 For Constitutional Safeguards For Ladakh

Earlier, there was a significant protest gathering in Ladakh as the Union Territory observed a total shutdown in response to demands made by the KDA and the LAB to back their four-point agenda.

Sonam Wangchuk ladakh

Sonam Wangchuk, a prominent advocate for constitutional protections for Ladakh

Sonam Wangchuk, a prominent advocate for constitutional protections for Ladakh, announced on Monday that he would begin a death fast on February 19 in order to forward their objectives and that the specifics of locals’ involvement in the protest were still being worked out. The laureate of the Ramon Magsaysay Award claimed that the unfulfilled aspirations of the locals, which included complete statehood for Ladakh and protections under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, are driving them to a point of despair.

Former BJP Lok Sabha to join the movement

On the proposed fast unto death in Ladakh, Sonam Wangchuk told PTI, “First it will be Thupstan Chhewang (former BJP Lok Sabha MP) and me and if we die, who next and how many? All that roster is being prepared.”

He stated that he had originally intended to begin a three-week fast on February 3 but had to postpone it after Chhewang, the chairman of the Leh Apex Body (LAB), requested that he hold off until February 19, when he would be meeting with Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai in New Delhi. Rai is the head of a powerful committee that was formed to investigate a range of matters related to the defense of the rights of people living in Ladakh.

Protest going on in Ladakh

On Saturday, there was a significant protest gathering in Ladakh as the Union Territory observed a total shutdown in response to demands made by the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) and the Leh Apex Body (LAB) to back their four-point agenda.

“People came out in numbers like 30,000, which is unprecedented in the history of Ladakh. It’s like one third of the adult population of Ladakh came out to tell the government that it was not the voice of one person but everyone wanted the safeguards for the region,” Wangchuk said.

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What is the Sixth Schedule

He claimed that the lack of progress in the multiple rounds of discussions was the cause of the people’s discontent. Wangchuk elucidated the implications of the Sixth Schedule safeguards for them. “All that the Sixth Schedule does is that it requires the consultation of local indigenous people in any agenda. It is about setting up councils of indigenous people with legislative rights, lawmaking rights, and any industry can come, but not without consultation or consent of the people.

“Secondly, it’s not also about protecting Ladakh from outsiders alone. It’s as much protecting Ladakh from Ladakhi people. We can do a lot of damage also. Like there’s Pangong lake, there’s Tsomoriri lake, very fragile ecosystems,” Sonam Wangchuk said.

The LAB has been demanded inclusion of Ladakh in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, which provides safeguards for tribal rights. It is in force in tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. The KDA has been demanding statehood for Ladakh.