News and Views on Tibet

Activist Sonam Wangchuk leads call for border march amidst land encroachment concerns by China

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Activist Sonam Wangchuk called on Ladhaki people to join him in a march to the Indo-Tibetan border (Photo/DNP India)

By Tsering Dhundup

DHARAMSHALA, April 6: Climate activist Sonam Wangchuk, known for his advocacy on environmental issues, recently concluded a 21-day fast during which he urged the people of Ladakh to participate in a border march on April 7, to inspect the encroachment of grazing land by China along the India-Tibet border. Wangchuk emphasised the importance of an “on-ground check” and declared, “10,000 Ladakhis will march to the borders.”

Wangchuk shared concerns over land loss to both Indian corporations and encroachment from China. He stated that Ladakhis have lost prime pasture land to Chinese forces, which he said is encroaching from the North and has captured huge chunks of Indian land in the last five years.

In response to the planned march, the administration of Ladakh’s Union Territory implemented CrPC section 144 in Leh and ordered a reduction of internet speeds to 2G for 24 hours. Section 144 prohibits large assemblies of four or more people. The decision was made citing concerns over potential breaches of peace and public tranquillity, with the District Magistrate highlighting the need to prevent danger to human life.

Wangchuk urged the participation of nomadic leaders in the march, stating that they would demonstrate the extent of their traditional grazing lands that have been encroached and captured by intruding Chinese forces.

Incidents like the recent confrontation in January between local herders and a Chinese army patrolling unit in the Kakshung area of Nyoma village, as well as previous reports of Chinese encroachments and restriction on Indian patrolling units in Ladakh, underscore the urgency of the situation.

Despite diplomatic and military-level talks between India and China, the border dispute remains unresolved. Tensions escalated following the Galwan Valley clashes in 2021, leading to increased difficulties for nomadic herders who rely on traditional grazing lands that have become ‘no-man’s land’ in many areas of Ladakh.

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