Sonam Wangchuk put under House Arrest, All is not well in Ladakh

LADAKH: The Ladakh administration on January 27 late Friday night has put Sonam Wangchuk under house arrest, Ladkah admin has restricted movement of the famous innovator Sonam Wangchuk, who is on a five day fast demanding sixth schedule of the constitution and other safeguards for the region, besides urging people to change their carbon intensive lifestyle to fight climate change.

Wangchuk, whose initiatives and innovations were popularised by a 2009 Bollywood movie Three Idiots, started his five day fast on Republic Day at the rooftop of his Himalayan Institute of Alternatives Ladakh currently reeling under minus 20 degree temperature. “All is not well in Ladakh,” said Wangchuk.

The administration disallowed him to travel to Khardungla pass – around 17852 feet above sea level – where he had planned to protest along with other supporters of his cause. He wants the Prime Minister to immediately call the leaders across Ladakh for a meeting to discuss their demands to safeguards the land, ecology, culture and employment for the region.

“In minus 20 degrees this is my third day of the fast out in the HIAL campus rooftop, partly because Khardungla Pass was blocked due to heavy snowfall and partly because the administration has restricted my fast to HIAL campus and not allowed for Khardungla Pass citing threats to my life and so on…” said Wangchuk, adding, “I think there is more to it than that because the base of Khardungla has all basic facility of security and health and I should be allowed to go to that place.” He requested the administration to allow him to the base of Khardungla Pass in coming days.

“It seems they are not worried about my security but they are worried that their failures will be highlighted from the heights of Khardungla,” said Wangchuk. “For the last three years everything has gone astray in Ladakh and the system is a total failure…on Republic Day my movement was restricted…this is like a banana republic and a dictatorial state,” he said.

The religious bodies across the spectrum and other social and economic forums in Ladakh have supported Wangchuk’s initiative and have gone on symbolic fasts at several places including the respective religious places.

The innovator from Ladakh supports the demands of the Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance–an amalgam of religious, social and political organisations in the UT–who have put forth four demands before the central government including statehood for Ladakh, constitutional safeguards under the Sixth Schedule of the constitution of India to protect the interest of the tribal people of Ladakh, formation of public services commission and reservation of jobs for youth of Ladakh and creation of two separate parliamentary constituencies for Leh and Kargil. “It seems that the UT administration is scared of this initiative, my lawyers have said that the right to peaceful assembly is my right and I am not breaking any law in doing this,” he said.

Wangchuk also stated that his second agenda is to safeguard the climate of the whole himalayan region and urged people to help in reducing carbon emission. “I am also going on this fast for the Himalayan glaciers and ecology,” he said.

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