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3-day hunger strike demanding statehood for Ladakh begins in Kargil

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KARGIL, March 24: A three-day hunger strike by Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA) in support of their four-point demands, including statehood and Ladakh’s inclusion in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, commenced here on Sunday with people from different walks of life joining the symbolic protest against the Central government.

Separately, the hunger strike led by climate activist Sonam Wangchuk in Leh entered 19th day as he expressed his displeasure over “breach of trust” from the Union home ministry amid deadlock over the talks between representatives of Leh-based Apex Body and the government.

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KDA and Leh-based Apex Body, both separate groupings of various political, social and religious organisations representing the two districts, are jointly spearheading the agitation in support of their demands which also included job reservation for local youth and one Rajya Sabha seat. The agitation was launched shortly after Ladakh was granted UT status without assembly in August 2019.

The entire leadership of KDA along with over 200 volunteers assembled at Hussaini park Sunday morning and started the three-day hunger strike in solidarity with Wangchuk who has been on ‘climate fast’ in Leh since March 6 in support of the demands.

Amid chanting of slogans like “hollow UT, bureaucracy not acceptable and restore democracy in Ladakh”, people from different walks of life including chief executive councillor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Kargil, Jaffar Akhoon attended the hunger strike which was among others attended by co-chairmen of KDA Qamar Ali Akhoon and Asgar Ali Karbalai.

“The hunger strike is part of the ongoing joint agitation by KDA and Apex body to press for our four-point demands. Unfortunately after five rounds of talks with the home ministry, the home minister (Amit Shah) on March 4 told us that we will be given some constitutional safeguards but not the statehood and Sixth Schedule of the Constitution,” Karbalai said.

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He said the KDA and the Apex Body unanimously decided to intensify the agitation with the start of a hunger strike by Wangchuk in Leh.

The hunger strikes in Leh and Kargil will end on March 26 evening and the people are requested to assemble in the district towns, where the concerned leadership will announce the future course of action, Karbalai said.

Prominent KDA leader Sajjad Kargili said the people of Ladakh will continue their struggle in a “democratic and peaceful manner”.

“We request the government to open its heart and understand the concerns of the people of Ladakh,” he said.

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In Leh, Wangchuk said 5,000 people joined him in sub-zero temperatures on the start of the 19th day of his ‘climate fast’.

“I’m feeling (a) bit better today. But deeply disturbed at the breach of trust that Ladakh witnessed from the Home Ministry. This disrespect for written manifestos will set the worst precedence in the nation,” he wrote on X.

He said India already ranks at a dismal 93rd position in honesty and interestingly the countries that are at the top of the transparency ranking are also at the top of the per capita income ranking.

“… What does this imply! Where are our politicians leading us to? Hope you are joining Friends of Ladakh events in your city on Sunday tomorrow,” he said. (PTI)





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