Environmentalist Sonam Wangchuk’s short clip on Kashmir was shared out of context.

Claim

It is sad to see environmentalist Sonam Wangchuk in Leh demanding a plebiscite for Kashmir. Mr. Wangchuk, Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so. The last hurdle of Article 370 was nullified both by the Indian Parliament and the Supreme Court. Don’t push separatism.

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Explanation

A 15-second viral video of environmentalist Sonam Wangchuk is purporting on X that he is demanding a referendum in Kashmir. In this video, Sonam said, “any place should be happy from where people came, and they should go back. You might have heard that referendums and plebiscites should take place, and if everyone thinks like that, then why not?”

In this claimed video, it is said that Sonam Wangchuk wants to bring Ladakh to Jammu and Kashmir.

The same viral video widely shared by right-wing supporters can be seen here, here, here, and here

What’s the truth? 

We ran a reverse search using the keyframes of the viral video, and we found the full original video posted on the Fourth Estate YouTube channel on May 13, 2024. 

In the full original video, at the timestamp 14:23 minutes, the interviewer Ravindra Singh Sheoran asked Sonam Wangchuk views on the residents of Kargil still wanting to associate with Jammu and Kashmir, to which Sonam replied, “No, I want to ask whether it is the personal opinion of a few… if it is of the whole region or population… Then we will pray and work hard to ensure it happens. Be it any area in the world, it should be happy; people should be free to go where they want. So that’s why you must have heard about referendums and plebiscites. So, if everyone thinks the same, why not in Kashmir?”

Additionally, we also found the clarification given by the interviewer, Ravindra Singh Sheoran, on May 20, 2024, in the Fourth Estate YouTube channel.

In this video, Ravindra Singh said that on May 13th, “I took an interview with Sonam Wangchuk and asked a question regarding the statement of Kargil leader Sajjad Kargili. Sajjad Kargili said Kargil and Ladakh are in bad condition after becoming union territory, and why do they want us to be in union territory when we are in bad condition? It’s better to reunite us. 

For this question, Sonam Wangchuk answers that it is a personal view of Sajjad Kargili or a Kargil’s personal choice. If every Kargil’s people’s choice and one thinks like that, then there’s nothing wrong if people are happy with reuniting in Kashmir. Wangchuk added that this is the reason why in Kashmir, plebiscites and referendums take place.”

At the timestamp 2:10, the interviewer Sheoran said this was the full statement of Sonam Wangchuk, but it was edited and twisted in a way that Sonam was saying that he wanted a plebiscite in Kashmir, and it was falsely shared. 

We also found that Sonam Wangchuk tweeted on May 20, 2024, “Sad to see my statement being twisted beyond recognition. But I can totally understand how the doctored version of my video could be misunderstood when taken out of context. Please spread the truth, not lies. Satyamev jayate”.

Conclusion 

Environmentalist Sonam Wangchuk’s statement on Kashmir’s plebiscite is edited and shared out of context. 

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