Ladakhi innovator Sonam Wangchuk, who is observing a five-day fast to raise various demands related to the ecology and autonomy of the Union Territory, claimed on Saturday that he has been put under house arrest.

However, the police have denied his claims, PTI reported.

Wangchuk, an engineer by training and a Ramon Magsaysay Award winner, is known for his efforts in promoting sustainable development and alternative education systems. The popular 2009 Hindi film Three Idiots drew inspiration from his work.

Since January 26, Wangchuk has gone on a five-day “Climate Fast” to invite attention on demands like including Ladakh in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and protecting the Union Territory from unchecked industrial and commercial expansion.

The Sixth Schedule under Article 244 of the Constitution provides for the formation of autonomous administrative divisions – Autonomous District Councils – that have some legislative, judicial, and administrative autonomy within a state.

Barring the Bharatiya Janata Party, almost all major political parties, social and religious groups and student organisations have come together in both Leh and Kargil districts in support of Wangchuk’s demands, which also include statehood for Ladakh, which was given a Union Territory status in August 2019 after being carved out of J&K.

However, the police have denied that Wangchuk has been put under house arrest.

“He was not given permission by the administration to hold a five-day fast at Khardung La pass as the temperatures fall below minus 40 degrees Celsius there,” Leh Superintendent of Police PD Nitya told PTI. “It was high risk for him and his followers to move to the place and accordingly, he was requested to observe the fast at his Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakah [founded by Wangchuk]”

On Saturday, Wangchuk also tweeted a document in which the Ladakh administration has asked him to sign a bond of Rs 50,000 and not carry out any activity that “has the potential of endangering the peace and tranquility and law and order”.

“The #Ladakh UT administration wants me to sign this bond even when only fasts & prayers r happening,” Wangchuk wrote in his tweet.