Guwahati, Mar 27: Renowned climate activist and educator Sonam Wangchuk concluded his 21-day hunger strike on Tuesday, marking a significant moment in Ladakh’s ongoing quest for statehood and its inclusion under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India.

He insisted that his fight would continue; it is not the end of the protest. It’s a new beginning, Wangchuk said, around 60,000 of Ladakh’s 3 lakh residents will participate in the hunger strike demonstrating their pain as “no word came from this government”.

โ€œI will continue to fight for constitutional safeguards for Ladakh and people’s political rights,” Wangchuk said. As Sonam Wangchuk concluded his hunger strike, thousands gathered across the Union Territory in support. Women’s groups have announced plans to initiate a hunger strike to advocate for the same demands.

In August 2019, Ladakh was split from Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of the Article 370 โ€” that stripped the region of its statehood and semi-autonomy. The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation act 2019 was passed on 9th of August 2019 and the state was reorganised into two Union Territories namely Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union territory of Ladakh.

He raised the demand for statehood for Ladakh and its inclusion in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. The Sixth Schedule contains provisions related to the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram through autonomous district councils.

The government is yet to response to the ongoing situation in Ladakh, in a social media post, with an appeal to the Prime Minister, he said, โ€œSharing the unfair treatment meted out to people of Ladakh on Safeguards under 6th Schedule of constitution four years of dilly dallying and a no in the end after making clear promises in two elections in written manifestos.” He urged the government to “demonstrate courage”.

“We are trying to remind and awaken the consciousness of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to safeguard the fragile ecosystem of the Himalayan mountains in Ladakh and the unique indigenous tribal cultures that thrive here,” the activist said in the video.

“We do not want to think of PM Modi and Amit Shah as just politicians, we would rather like to think of them as statesmen but, for that, they will have to show some character and farsightedness,” he added.

In video messages shared in social media, Wangchuk, called on the people of Ladakh to use their franchise “very carefully” this time in the interest of the nation.
Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases from April 19 to June 1. Ladakh will go to polls in the fifth phase on May 20.

The continuation of the movement reflects the determination of the activists and their belief in achieving their goals through peaceful means, while also highlighting the significance of their cause for the region of Ladakh.