Sonam Wangchuk
A large number of locals joined Wangchuk at NDS Stadium on Sunday | Pic: Twitter/Sonam Wangchuk

Education reformist Sonam Wangchuk on 7-day ‘climate fast’ for Ladakh’s environment

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Sonam Wangchuk, a prominent engineer whose life inspired a character in the Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots, on Sunday began a seven-day hunger strike in Leh in support of his campaign for the protection of Ladakh’s fragile environment.

Wangchuk’s “climate fast” — the second time in the past six months — comes a day ahead of talks between the Ministry of Home Affairs and a six-member joint delegation of Leh-based Apex body and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) who are seeking full statehood, constitutional safeguards under sixth schedule, separate Lok Sabha seats for the two districts and recruitment and job reservation for the youth of Ladakh.

Also read: Sonam Wangchuk, on fast to save Ladakh, put ‘under house arrest’

“We have dedicated the first day of the fast for the success of the talks between the central government and our leaders,” Wangchuk, who was joined by a large number of locals at NDS Stadium, told reporters. He said thousands more across Ladakh are observing fast and holding prayers.

Ladakh is a sensitive and crucial region with regard to both the environment as well as the presence of China and Pakistan across its borders. “We want a solution to our issues peacefully without any disturbance or agitation,” he said.

Wangchuk welcomed the initiation of talks between the Centre and the leaders of Ladakh, stating that they are hopeful of a positive outcome which will be beneficial for coming generations. The education reformist said Ladakh witnessed large-scale development after getting the Union Territory status in 2019 but “lost the safeguards for its environment, land, culture and democratic rights”.

Wangchuk said the other motive behind his fast is to attract the attention of people around the globe, especially those living in the cities to make necessary changes in their lifestyles for saving the environment. “My appeal to the people is to live simply in the big cities so that we in the mountains may simply survive. My fast is like an alarm bell to the world as we have to make necessary changes to reverse global warming which is impacting our mountains and glaciers, threatening the lives of the people and the animals,” he said.

Also read: Hundreds join Wangchuk on final day of his hunger strike over Ladakh climate

Wangchuk said his fast is in support of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Mission Life initiative aimed at mobilising at least one billion Indians and other global citizens to take individual and collective action for protecting and preserving the environment in the period 2022 to 2027.

“We introduced the website four years ago. I appeal to people to visit the website and take a pledge for changing their lifestyle. I want at least seven lakh pledges and the day it happens, I will end my fast,” he said.

(With agency inputs)

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