Sonam Wangchuk ends 21-day hunger strike in Ladakh: Who is he and why was he protesting?

Ladakh news: While ending his hunger strike on Tuesday, climate activist Sonam Wangchuk has said this is not the end of the protest. Women will start their protest on March 27.

Livemint
Updated26 Mar 2024, 08:06 PM IST
Education reformist and climate activist Sonam Wangchuk
Education reformist and climate activist Sonam Wangchuk(PTI)

Climate activist Sonam Wangchuk ended his 21-day hunger strike, news agency ANI reported on Tuesday. Wangchuk launched "Climate Fast for 21 days (extendable till death)" on March 6. While ending his hunger strike on Tuesday, he said that it was not the end of the protest.

“This is the end of the first phase of the hunger strike. But this is not the end of the protest. It's a new beginning. The new phase will start tomorrow [Wednesday, March 27]. Women will hold hunger strike from tomorrow...this will go on,” Wangchuk said on Tuesday.

During the 21 days of the climate fast, Wangchuk said, "350 people slept in -10 °C. 5000 people in the day here [Ladakh]. But still not a word from the government."

In another post on X, he reached out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. "We need statesmen of integrity, farsightedness & wisdom in this country and not just shortsighted characterless politicians. And I very much hope that Narendra Modi ji and Amit Shah ji will soon prove that they are statesmen...," he had tweeted on Tuesday.

He also reminded PM Modi and Amit Shah of the promises they made to the people of Ladakh in the past two elections.

Who is Sonam Wangchuk?

Wangchuk is a climate activist, mechanical engineer and educator from Ladakh. He is also the Director of the Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh (HIAL). He had received the Magsaysay Award in the year 2018.

It was Wangchuk's personality that inspired Aamir Khan's character Phunsukh Wangdu in the 2009 film ‘3 idiots’.

The Ladakh-based engineer is known for setting up his innovative school, the Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL), whose campus runs on solar energy and uses no fossil fuels for cooking, lighting, or heating. READ MORE ABOUT HIM HERE

Why is Sonam Wangchuk protesting

While launching a 21-day hunger strike, Wangchuk had raised challenges related to the climate. "Today our planet is going through huge challenges, environmental challenges, global warming, climate change and no where else this challenge can be seen more than in the Himalayas, than in the Tibetan plateau," he had said on March 6.

“Himalayan glaciers are melting away fast,” he tweeted on the 17th day of the protest.

Meanwhile, he has also raised the demand for statehood for Ladakh and its inclusion in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. In an appeal to the Prime Minister, he said, “Sharing the unfair treatment meted out to people of Ladakh on Safeguards under 6th Schedule of constitution...4 years of dilly dallying and a No in the end... after making clear promises in 2 elections in written manifestos.”

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

In August 2019, Ladakh was split from Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of the Article 370 — that stripped the region of its statehood and semi-autonomy.

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First Published:26 Mar 2024, 08:06 PM IST
HomeNewsIndiaSonam Wangchuk ends 21-day hunger strike in Ladakh: Who is he and why was he protesting?

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