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India: Protests continue for two months for constitutional rights in Ladakh

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India: Protests continue for two months for constitutional rights in Ladakh

Ladakh, a region of India bordering the Himalayan mountains and China, is a beautiful region of cloud-shrouded mountain peaks, lush grasslands and thousands of glaciers.

For the past two months, protesters have been staging protests in Ladakh’s main city Leh to demand more autonomy from India’s central government.

During this protest, there were several evenings and nights in February when the temperature was below freezing, but the people of Ladakh continued to protest.

Tesaring Dolma, a resident here, says: ‘Ladakhis have come here to demand their rights which are under our constitution and that is why we are protesting here. We Ladakhis are still losing everything for the last 75 years. We still haven’t achieved anything in the last 75 years.’

The Ladakh region was administered by the state of Jammu and Kashmir before August 2019.

In 2019, the central government of the Bharatiya Janata Party revoked the autonomous status of the state of Kashmir and declared Ladakh a union territory of India. Since then it is directly administered by the central government.

Occurring at a height above sea level, this region is suffering from the effects of climate change which has also changed the weather patterns. Glaciers are melting, floods are occurring and droughts are increasing.

In all this situation, the protest has been going on for two months in Leh, which is being jointly led by the leaders of the social organization of Leh and the Kargil Democratic Alliance.

Sonam Wangchuck, has emerged as a prominent leader of this protest movement.

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In March, Sonam Wangchuck went on a 21-day hunger strike in freezing temperatures, mimicking the famous hunger strike of Mahatma Gandhi, the supreme leader of the Indian independence movement, to draw attention to the issue.

Speaking to Independent Urdu, he said, “I had an idea that the 21 days would be difficult and life-threatening.” Around 42 thousand people have come here during my hunger strike and supported the democratic process. We are demanding our rights following the path of peace as told by Gandhiji.

At present Ladakh is directly administered by the Central Government of India. This means that the participation of local representatives in the decision-making process is limited. But as a state it will have its own legislature and chief minister.

Tasering Dolma is involved in this protest. He says, ‘Climate change is a huge problem here. We have defended our country India in every aspect. We citizens have been with defense to save our country from enemies and now we want to protect our culture and environment too.’

During this protest, there were several evenings and nights in February when the temperature was below freezing, but the people of Ladakh continued to protest (Independent Urdu).

Ladakh’s glaciers are an important source of water and rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall have made water scarcity a problem in the region.

In such a situation, the traditional Bakarwals in the region who breed Pashmina goats and goats are worried.

The protestors celebrated a day to highlight the problems of Pashmina Bakrwals on April 7.

The pashmina obtained from these goats and goats makes one of the finest coats and shawls in the world. But no one is ready to listen to the problems of these bakarwals.

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Due to border disputes between China and India and frequent armed conflicts, these Bakarwals have also lost their natural and traditional pastures.

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Far from the border conflict, the pastures are becoming the focus of solar parks set up by the central government to promote industrial development, and what remains has been driven away by climate change.

In such a situation, there is also a lack of jobs in Ladakh, due to which unemployment among the youth is also increasing.

When this representative delegation of Ladakhi leaders went to New Delhi to demand the solution of such problems, they met the Indian Home Minister Amit Shah.

According to a report in The Hindu newspaper, the meeting in early March ‘did not yield any positive results.’

However, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs of India, “Amit Shah assured the delegation that the Central Government of India is committed to providing necessary constitutional protections to Ladakh.”

Another concern of the Ladakhi people is that since August 2019, outsiders and companies have been buying land here.

On this concern of the local people, Independent Urdu also tried to get his opinion from the Member of Parliament of Bharatiya Janata Party in Ladakh, Jamyang Sering, but he refused his position.

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