Why are Ladakh’s residents on a hunger strike?

Source: TH

Context: Sonam Wangchuk initiated a 21-day hunger strike in Leh, Ladakh, advocating for Ladakh’s statehood and its inclusion on the Sixth Schedule.Ladakh leaders call off hunger strike as MHA agrees to discuss Statehood,  constitutional safeguards - The Hindu

Historical Background: Ladakh’s Complex Past

  • Dynasty Rule: Ladakh was formerly governed by the Namgyal Dynasty.
  • Loss of Independence: In 1834, it came under Dogra rule for a century.
  • Integration into India: Post-1947, Ladakh became a part of India within Jammu & Kashmir.

Calls for Autonomy

  • Cultural Distinctiveness: Ladakh pursued separation from Kashmir due to its unique cultural identity.
  • Unmet Requests: Despite appeals, the central government did not grant autonomy.
  • Neglect and Discrimination: Ladakh received negligible budget allocations compared to Jammu & Kashmir.

Rise of the Union Territory Movement

  • Feelings of Neglect: Ladakhis felt marginalized and pushed for UT status.
  • District Division: Leh and Kargil were separated in 1979, perceived as a political tactic.
  • Partial Fulfillment: Ladakh gained reserved status and formed autonomous councils but with limited authority.

Creation of Ladakh as a Union Territory

  • Persistent Demands: Ladakh continued to demand UT status.
  • Article 370 Revocation: In 2019, Ladakh was designated a separate UT.
  • Mixed Reactions: Leh celebrated, while Kargil protested against the decision.Importance of Ladakh

Concerns and Post-UT Demands:

  • Loss of Protections: Removal of Article 370 and 35A raised concerns.
  • Outsider Influence: Fear of unchecked development and cultural dilution.
  • Governance Challenges: Lack of local governance control emerged as an issue.

Ongoing Protests in Ladakh:

  • Unified Protest: Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance joined forces.
  • Key Demands: Inclusion in the Sixth Schedule and attainment of statehood.
  • Protests and Hunger Strikes: Demonstrations persisted, including Wangchuk’s hunger strikes.Demand to include Ladakh in the Sixth Schedule | PT's IAS Academy

Government’s Position

  • Security Focus: Emphasis on military infrastructure due to security concerns.
  • Economic Priorities: Facilitating corporate investments for economic growth.
  • Precedent Setting: Reluctance to accede to demands fearing similar requests from other regions.

Core Issues of Trust and Development

  • Trust Deficit: Ladakhis fear losing control over their future.
  • Developmental Needs: Desire for development that respects Ladakhi heritage.

Conclusion

  • Importance of Governance: Ladakh hunger strike underscores the need to address governance and environmental challenges.
  • Sustainable Development: Vital for ensuring long-term peace and prosperity in the region.
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