Ladakh activist Wangchuk ends 21-day fast, urges PM Modi, Amit Shah to deliver on promises

Sonam Wangchuk said that women’s groups will start their fast on March 27 and will be followed by youth, then monks

Updated - March 26, 2024 09:37 pm IST

Published - March 26, 2024 07:15 pm IST - SRINAGAR

Activist Sonam Wangchuk speaks on the 21st day of his ‘climate fast’ on march 26, 2024. Photo: X/@Wangchuk66 via PTI

Activist Sonam Wangchuk speaks on the 21st day of his ‘climate fast’ on march 26, 2024. Photo: X/@Wangchuk66 via PTI

Climate activist Sonam Wangchuk on March 26 (Tuesday) ended his 21-day fast in Leh, as he urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to “prove themselves as statesmen”.

“It was for 21days. From tomorrow, women’s groups will start their fast and will be followed by youth, then monks and so on,” Mr. Wangchuk told The Hindu.

Mr. Wangchuk has visibly grown frail and his voice has also strained. The Ladakhi activist has matched the longest fast held by Mahatma Gandhi during the freedom movement.

Hours ahead of calling off the fast, Mr. Wangchuk called upon the leadership of the country to “deliver on their promises”.

“We need statesmen of integrity, farsightedness and wisdom in this country and not just shortsighted characterless politicians. And I very much hope that PM Modi and Mr. Shah will soon prove that they are statesmen,” Mr. Wangchuk said.

Explained | What is Ladakh’s demand on Gilgit-Baltistan?

Mr. Wangchuk also reminded PM Modi of the BJP promises made to the people of Ladakh. “PM Modi is a devotee of Lord Ram. He should follow his teaching of ‘pran jaye par vachan na jaye’ (one may lose their life, but must not break their promise),” he said.

He urged voters to “use their ballot power very carefully this time in the interest of the nation”. “Citizens are the kingmakers. We can compel a government to change their ways or change the government if that doesn’t work,” he added.

Around 350 people slept under the open skies with Mr. Wangchuk at the protest site in Ladakh’s Leh district on March 25 night, amid minus 10°C temperature. There is growing support in Ladakh for Wangchuk’s fast. Around 5000 people joined him on Monday and scores from the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) observed solidarity fast in Kargil.

He decided to sit on fast on March 6, after the Centre and Ladakh leadership’s talks failed in February. Statehood to newly-carved Union Territory of Ladakh and Sixth Schedule status are among four demands being pursued by the leaders of KDA and Leh Apex Body with the Centre. However, several rounds of dialogue in the past one year failed to achieve anything concrete.

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