LEH: All religious organisations of Leh extended strong support to climate activist Sonam Wangchuk who is all set to sit on a 5-day ‘fast’ on Khardongla under minus (-) 40 Degree Celsius to highlight environmental issues concerning Ladakh and the Himalayans and also to seek constitutional safeguards under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to protect the ecologically-fragile Ladakh from industrial exploitations.
Welcoming Sonam Wangchuk’s step to sit on a ‘climate fast’ to draw the attention of the world to issues concerning Ladakh region, Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) together with Ladakh Gonpa Association decided to observe ‘fast’ on Republic Day in Chowkhang Vihara to support the cause. Addressing the media, Vice President LBA Chering Dorjay, on behalf of LBA, thanked Sonam Wangchuk for initiating this movement and hoped that people would join in large numbers. Similarly, Anjuman Moin-Ul- Islam also held a press conference thanking Sonam Wangchuk and appealing to the public to support the cause. Anjuman Moin-Ul Islam has decided to observe ‘fast’ in Masjid Sharif on Republic Day after hoisting of the flag.
President Anjumam Imamia Leh Ashraf Ali Barcha appealed to the community members to keep one day fasting in support of initiative taken by Sonam Wangchuk who will be fasting for five days on ‘Khardung la top in order to draw the attention of Government of India in favour of climate protection and four-point agendas of Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance to ensure a well-protected and sustainable future for Ladakh’. “We appreciate the concern shown by Sonam Wangchuk for the future of people living in the lap of Himalaya in general and Ladakh in particular. We pray for his good health and hope that GOI will take his concerns seriously and fulfil the demand of people of Ladakh and ensure all the care for his good health,” Ashraf Ali Barcha said.
President Christian Community, Ladakh, Dechen Chamga said, “In solidarity with the people of Ladakh and to support Mr Sonam Wangchuk, the Christian community of Ladakh has humbly decided to hold a fasting prayer on 26th of January 2023 in the Churches of Leh, Shey and Khalatse. We hope and pray that the Government would notice this selfless precarious act of Mr. Sonam Wangchuk and the plea of the Ladakhi people for our survival for a longer time in this fragile land of Ladakh”.
In a video message titled “All is not well in Ladakh” released last week, Sonam Wangchuk – Founder Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh (HAIL) and Students Educational Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL) – announced appealed to the Prime Minister of India to intervene and safeguard Ladakh’s fragile ecosystem under the sixth schedule of the Indian constitution. He also appealed to the people of India and the world to help protect the environmentally sensitive region of Ladakh.
The environmental activist reminded the Prime Minister of the promises made by BJP in its election manifestos during Lok Sabha in 2019 and Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh in 2020. BJP had promised in its manifestoes to declare under the sixth schedule of the Indian constitution to protect its distinct identity, rich cultural heritage, jobs opportunities and the fragile ecology.
Wangchuk argued that the Constitution requires 50% of a region’s population to be tribal to be eligible for 6th Schedule whereas over 95% of Ladakh’s population is tribal. “India is the only country where the people of Ladakh are standing side by side with the forces. India’s security lies in the protection of Ladakh and the Himalayans,” he said in his video message. Wangchuk announced that to convey his message more strongly to the Government of India and to draw the attention of the people of India and the world to the fragile environment and melting of glaciers, he will to sit on a symbolic climate fast that will be for five days, starting from the Republic Day, on the top of Khardongla under minus 40 Degree Celsius in the vicinity of glaciers showing solidarity with them. “If I survive, I hope to see you again, otherwise farewell”, he concluded.