Climate Activist Sonam Wangchuk On Union Territory Tag For Ladakh

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New Delhi:

Disillusionment and anger are palpable on the freezing streets of Ladakh capital Leh, where climate activist Sonam Wangchuk has been sitting on fast for nearly two weeks. “People are asking whether declaring Ladakh a Union Territory was a ploy to sell of our mountains to industrial lobby and mining companies,” he told NDTV.

The BJP, Mr Wangchuk said, had promised — not once but twice — that their demands will be met. “It was one of their poll promises. They promised us that they would protect the identity of Ladakh under the sixth schedule. But sadly, promises have not been kept. Ladakh has no democratic representation,” he added.

Mr Wangchuk also claimed the morale of the soldiers was at its weakest. “The morale of Ladakhi soldiers is broken because Ladakh has neither democracy (Assembly) nor reservation (for locals),” he said.

Almost five years ago, when Ladakh was declared a separate Union Territory, the people had celebrated. But now, “People in Ladakh are disillusioned and feel they have been taken for a ride. I can only say that they (the BJP) only think about elections and how many seats they can get, but forget about people,” he added.

“We want reassurance from the Centre that even though they have failed to live upto their promise up till now, they will not do so again,” he said. The people, he added, now want a multi-party legally binding agreement.

“We want to educate people in other parts of the country about how false promises were made to us. But we are not just fighting for Ladakh. It is for our nation,” he added.

People from 20 cities spread across India — including Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad — have come out in support of Ladakh. Huge protests have been planned on March 20 and again on March 24. “We are also asking international communities to come out and support our cause,” he added.

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