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

Innovator Sonam Wangchuk on a fast to bring attention to urgent need for protection of Ladakh from climate change effects; alleges it has invited retaliatory action by the UT administration

Sonam Wangchuk says
Innovator Sonam Wangchuk carries on his fast in -20 degree conditions, with heavy police presence I Pic: @Wangchuk66/Twitter

Sonam Wangchuk, the Ladakh-based social reformist whose life story served as the inspiration for the Bollywood film 3 Idiots, went on a five-day fast on Thursday to raise awareness about the need to protect Ladakh from the effects of climate change. On Saturday, he said he was put under house arrest.

In a Facebook post, Wangchuk said he was under house arrest and that the LG of the Union Territory of Ladakh was running business with a heavy hand. In an update to the video, Wangchuk said he has been told to sign papers by the administration and told to maintain silence. Wangchuk claimed the administration has detained three students from his institute to up the pressure.


Wangchuk, an innovator, decided to go on fast to bring attention to the urgent need for the protection of Ladakh from the effects of climate change. Studies have shown that nearly two-third of the glaciers in the Union Territory are at the risk of melting. He has called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take action to ensure the safety of Ladakh.


On Friday, Wangchuk shared a video in which he stated that due to heavy snowfall, the roads leading to Khardung La, known for having the world’s highest motorable road at 18,380 feet, were impassable. He also mentioned that the temperature in the area was currently at -40 degrees Celsius, making it impossible for him to make the journey.

In the video, he mentioned that the authorities had not allowed him to go to Khardung La top, citing concerns for his safety. He suggested that there may be other reasons and requested permission to go there as the base of Khardung La has medical facilities available.

The video also shows the rooftop and the surrounding area covered with snow. Wangchuk said the current temperature of Phyang was -20 degree Celsius.

“AFTER THE 1st DAY OF MY #ClimateFast FOR LADAKH…Still on rooftop as roads were blocked & I’ve been denied permission to get to #KHARDUNGLA More later…” he said in a tweet.

Also Read: Ladakh delegation discusses statehood issue with Rahul Gandhi

Wangchuk has previously warned that if action is not taken to protect Ladakh from industrial harm, the glaciers in the region will continue to melt and cause significant problems such as water scarcity in India and nearby areas. He has emphasized that if the current disregard for Ladakh’s well-being continues, the region will face dire consequences.

Wangchuk has warned that if no measures are taken to protect Ladakh, industries, tourism and commerce will ultimately destroy the region. Recent studies from organizations such as Kashmir University have concluded that if proper care is not taken, two-third of the glaciers in Leh-Ladakh will be gone. A study by Kashmir University found that glaciers located near highways and areas with high human activity are melting at a faster rate, he said.

He also urged children to be mindful of not wasting food and clothes, as it harms the environment. In a video shared on his YouTube channel, he urgently appealed to people in the country and the world to help protect Ladakh, which is an environmentally sensitive region. He also emphasized on the need for PM Modi to take steps to safeguard the ecosystem of Ladakh under the sixth schedule of the Indian constitution.

(With agency inputs)