Autonomy for Ladakh, or what Sonam Wangchuk is fasting for

“Why are we being punished?” he asked. “Is it because of our loyalty, or is it because we have a small population?

“When Sikkim became a state, it had a population of 2 lakh people, whereas we are at 3.5 lakh. Without democracy, one person (the lieutenant governor) is deciding everything for us.

“The allocation for Ladakh is Rs 6,000 crore. More than half this money goes back because they [the administration] are unable to utilise it. A sensitive, fragile place like this, so different from the mainland, cannot be developed with one person taking all the decisions.

“We have regressed. When we were in the [erstwhile] state of Jammu and Kashmir, we had four MLAs who would raise their voices in the Assembly. Now we have zero,” he added.

Wangchuk also shared other apprehensions about this ecologically and geopolitically sensitive zone with local journalists.

The morale of the Indian soldiers facing both Chinese and Pakistani armed forces is at an all-time low, as the three battle-hardy components of the army—Ladakhis, Sikhs and Gurkhas—were unhappy with the present government’s insensitive handling of the political situation.

The Ladakhi Scouts are demoralised by the lack of democracy within the union territory, whereas the Sikh soldiers are disgruntled by the brutal suppression of the farmers’ protests.

The fearless Gurkhas, regarded as the fighting arm of the army, are no longer willing to join the Indian army after the imposition of the Agnipath scheme (which recruits soldiers on four-year contracts). They are presently being recruited by the Chinese which, Wangchuk warned, will have dangerous consequences for the nation as a whole.

Leave a Comment