Uprising in the Nubra Valley

On the other side of the Himalayan province of Ladakh, north of the city of Leh and beyond the famous Khardung Pass, stands the narrow Nubra Valley. This area is the last opened region before the Chinese border, but it is especially an important access road for trade between Leh, the capital of Ladakh, and the villages of Nubra, famous for their fruit growing cultures.
  Vallée de la Nubra, Inde
It is that major axis of communication and exchange that a few hundred villagers decided to block during three long days, thus hoping that Leh finally hears their claims. Subjected to living conditions which did not evolve, and despite the last electoral promises of the elected officials, the villagers of five Nubra Valley hamlets, in desperation, gathered to manifest. They asked a financial assistance for their two schools, new furniture and the creation of a small library. But they especially claimed for an effective and powerful running water system, as well as the end of electricity shortage and cuts in the winter season.
Camions bloqués, Nubra   Manifestation des villageois, Nubra
After three days of manifestation having led to nothing, the edginess of the villagers and the truck-drivers blocked along the road, powerless, is also growing. The District Governor of the area is finally sent from Leh to negotiate, accompanied by its group of soldiers. The population, although tired and irritated by these waiting days, will not let themselves be fooled by the politician's promises. Indeed, the villagers require a written contract on which they want their claims to appear, as well as every action that the government will be committing to set up. Sole tourist to meddle in the manifestation and follow the loud and passionate “debates”, I'm strongly urged to stop taking pictures.
Vallée de la Nubra   Venue du District Governor de la Nubra Valley
Soulèvement des villageois, Inde  

While the negotiation continue, many villagers settle down along the blocked access roads. The women discuss between them, wisely sitting in groups, while young people laugh quietly in front of such an scene of excitation around the politician coming from Leh.

If the majority of them only look as curious bystanders benefiting from the “show” between friends and neighbors, they all feel directly concerned. Their claims, according to all, are completely justified and their motivations stand unshakable. The demonstrators indeed do not let through anybody, not even what appears as simple cyclists…

The women are the first stand strongly and proudly in front of this politician who came to speak to them, hoping to calm down the situation. The villagers are in such a fierce state of mind that they even seem to disrupt the soldiers who accompany the governor. They do not know how to channel this crowd which gradually circles them. The tension goes up and the District Governor must finally establish a safety perimeter in order to be heard. His speech will unfortunately not convince, and the women of this matriarchal culture will let it know vehemently.
Femmes ladakhies   Manifestation

Thus rejected, the District Governor asks for a few hours to think over his strategy and to validate or not the claims of the villagers. While the demonstrators still wait, he must go away, a few kilometers from there, to discuss the situation with his collaborators.

Waiting for the politician's return, tiredness is on all the faces, but the determination of the villagers remains quite present, even after those three days of uprising. This is even more obvious among ladakhi women who, for most of them, manage their own house. Polyandrous, the ladakhi culture indeed gives to women the possibility of marrying with two or three men at the same time (only brothers). The living conditions in Ladakh are indeed very difficult. By marrying the same woman, this system makes it possible for the brothers of the same family to preserve their family fields and house without having to divide it. The goods of each family can thus be bequeathed in their entirety, from generation to generation.

The women thus have a great importance and a real decisive stronghold in their villages.

  Attente, Vallée de la Nubra

Always consulted and listened when a decision regards the inhabitants as a whole, the ladakhi women have a true political power within their community. Thus, it is mainly thanks to their intervention that the demonstration could gather so many villagers.

Here are some of these women, among the most committed and strongest protestors during these days of fighting - for their rights.

Finally, it is to them that the mayor of Panamik village proudly announces that the District Governor has just accepted all their requests, putting an end to their three days of uprising.

  Fin de la manifestation, Nubra - Inde
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