Volunteers hold solidarity protest in Dharamsala to support Sonam Wangchuk’s ‘climate fast’ for Ladakh 

DHARAMSALA, 31 Jan: A group of volunteers held a protest in solidarity with climate activist Sonam Wangchuk, who is on a ‘Climate fast’ on Monday.

Like volunteers in many parts of the Himalayas, the Indian engineer, scientist, and education reformer’s call to action was responded to, by a group of volunteers from Mcleod Ganj, declaring his fasting “inspirational and pathbreaking”.

“Sonam Wangchuk’s call for action against Climate Change is not only for Ladakh or the Himalayas but for the entire world. This is not a protest. It’s not political. It’s a responsibility of every human being on this planet,” Tibetan writer and activist Tenzin Tsundue said.

He further said that the climate activist’s call for “protection and preservation” is not only for the physical environment but also for the cultural environment, and therefore seeking constitutional provision of the 6th Schedule Rights to Ladakh is natural step.”

Tsundue further recalled everyone a popular quote by Wangchuk urging everyone to “Please live simply, so we can simply live.” 

A group made of activists, writers, researchers, Buddhists Monks and nuns from Ladakh, Lahaul and Spiti braced against rain and bitter cold in solidarity with the climate activist from Ladakh.

“Taking care of our environment is everybody’s responsibility. Sonam Wangchuk is an inspiration who is fasting in freezing cold Ladakh. As the ‘ClimateFast’ is coming to an end today we came here to show our support and solidarity,” Buddhist Nun, Phuntsok Dolma, a student from Ladakh studying in Dharamshala said.

Climate Change researcher, Lobsang Yangtso said that mass-scale mining, deforestation, and industrialization are the causes behind global warming. 

“Melting of glaciers in the Himalayas and Tibet at such alarming rates is worrying, and this could alter our lives completely for the worst in the next decades”.

Similar solidarity protests were held across India in support of the activist-innovator with the pictures and videos of them widely circulating across social media platforms.

Wangchuk who began his five-day climate fast on Republic Day on Sunday appealed people to join him on the last day of his protest. 

“I am overwhelmed by the support I am getting from all across. Tomorrow is the last day of my climate fast and you all can join too — from your homes or community spaces to show to the world that we care for the environment and not just support blind development. Stay connected, stay tuned,” the social reformist is heard saying in a video message.

While the Magsaysay Award winner was to originally hold the fast in the open at Khardung La — where temperatures drop to -40°C — he wasn’t allowed, and eventually organised the fast at his institute, where night temperatures go as low as -20°C.

As the authorities from Ladakh UT administration scrapped the permit to hold his fast at Khardung La, subjected him to house arrest and even asked him to sign a bond demanding his silence, Wangchuk has said after he concluded his ‘climate fast’ at his institute — the Himalayan Institute of Alternative Ladakh that “seeing the current situation in Ladakh, he now thinks Ladakhis were better-off as part of the pre-2019 Jammu and Kashmir state.”

He further said that “it is sad to see Ladakh Union Territory become a banana Union Territory.”

The engineer and innovator-turned-climate activist concluded his five-day fast to safeguard mountains, glaciers, land and people of Ladakh under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution on Monday.


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