Sonam Wangchuk, a social reformist and the man whose life story inspired the Bollywood movie “3 Idiots” on Saturday posted a video on Facebook and said that he is under house arrest.
The Ladakh administration has restricted movement of the famous innovator who is on a five day fast demanding sixth schedule of the constitution and other safeguards for the region, besides urging people to change their carbon intensive lifestyle to fight climate change.
He earlier said that he would sit on a five-day Climate Fast at Khardungla pass which is 18,000 ft where the temperature is -40°C. He further updated that as roads to Khardungla are blocked due to heavy snowfall, he is on a fast from HIAL.
“In minus 20 degrees this is my third day of the fast out in the HIAL campus rooftop, partly because Khardungla Pass was blocked due to heavy snowfall and partly because the administration has restricted my fast to HIAL campus and not allowed for Khardungla Pass citing threats to my life and so on…” said Wangchuk, he further added, “I think there is more to it than that because the base of Khardungla has all basic facility of security and health and I should be allowed to go to that place.” He requested the administration to allow him to the base of Khardungla Pass in coming days.
On 23 January, Wangchuk sent an SOS to PM Modi. He made an appeal to the prime minister to take action since “all is not well in Ladakh”. He supports the demands of the Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance–an amalgam of religious, social and political organizations in the UT–who have put forth four demands before the central government including statehood for Ladakh, constitutional safeguards under the Sixth Schedule of the constitution of India to protect the interest of the tribal people of Ladakh. Wangchuk also expressed worry about the potential for corporate expansion in the union territory, which is anticipated to add to the already severe shortage of resources like water.
Sonam Wangchuk is a mechanical engineer and Director of the Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh (HIAL). He was a recipient of the Magsaysay Award in the year 2018. He is known for setting up his innovative school, the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL), whose campus runs on solar energy and uses no fossil fuels for cooking, lighting, or heating. In November 2022, he was awarded the seventh Dr Paulos Mar Gregorios Award by former Vice President Venkaiah Naidu.