'Leh Turned Into War Zone', Says Sonam Wangchuk After Prohibitory Orders In Ladakh  - Vibes Of India

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‘Leh Turned Into War Zone’, Says Sonam Wangchuk After Prohibitory Orders In Ladakh 

| Updated: April 6, 2024 18:04

Prohibitory orders, including internet curbs, have been imposed in Ladakh a day ahead of the planned border march being led by climate activist and education reformer Sonam Wangchuk to “highlight the ground realities in Ladakh”. Wangchuk, who is currently on a hunger fast in Leh, advised people in Ladakh to not carry out the march, and instead raise their voices from wherever they are on Sunday. 

Thousands were expected to join the ‘Pashmina March’, which is part of the agitation for statehood, to the Line of Actual Control on Sunday. Wangchuk, who inspired the Aamir Khan-starrer film ‘3 Idiots’, had also said that the march would highlight the “ground realities in Ladakh”. He has claimed that over 4,000 square km of land has been grabbed by China. 

Taking to X, Wangchuk said that security forces equipped with smoke grenades, riot gear, and barricades have been deployed in the region even though their protest has been peaceful so far. 

“Leh is being turned into a war zone with disproportionate force, barricades, smoke grenades. Attempts to arrest peaceful youth leaders even singers continue. Seems they want to turn a most peaceful movement violent & then brand Ladakhis as anti-nationals,” he said in a post. 

“Govt seems worried only about Ladakh’s effects on their votes and mining lobbies… not the people here nor even national security,” Mr Wangchuk added. 

The call for the march, which is on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March, was given by Wangchuk on March 27, a day after he had called off his 21-day hunger strike for statehood for Ladakh and the safeguarding of rights of its majority tribal population under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. 

The administration issued two separate orders on Friday. An order issued by the Additional Director General of Police, Ladakh, cited inputs from the police and intelligence agencies and said “there is every apprehension about misuse of mobile data and public WiFi facilities by anti-social elements and miscreants to incite and provoke general public through various means of social media” 

Another notice was issued by the District Magistrate of Leh, imposing prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). 

According to the order, restrictions are imposed on, among others, any procession, rally or march, public gatherings, and the use of loudspeakers mounted on a vehicle without permission. 

Sonam Wangchuk also claimed that protesters are being forcefully made to sign bonds by the police, asking them to not participate in the march. 

“A lot of restrictions are being imposed. Police are threatening protesters that they will arrest them if they don’t sign a bond that they won’t participate in the protest. We don’t understand why such extreme measures are being taken,” the activist said. 

“Our request is not to spread unrest in the name of peace. This is a very sensitive region and we always cared for the country,” he added. 

Ladakh was carved out as a separate Union territory after the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir state was bifurcated and stripped of its statehood and special status under Article 370 of the Constitution in August 2019. 

Within a year, Ladakhis felt a political vacuum. Massive protests and hunger strikes began taking place earlier this year after leaders of Buddhist-dominated Leh and Muslim-dominated Kargil joined hands under the banners of the Apex Body of Leh and the Kargil Democratic Alliance to demand statehood for Ladakh and its inclusion in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution 

While the Centre constituted a high-level committee to look into the demands of the people of Ladakh, a series of meetings with representatives of the protesters failed to find a resolution. On March 4, leaders from Ladakh met Home Minister Amit Shah and said he had refused to accept their demands. Wangchuk began his 21-day fast in Leh two days later. 

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