Tibetans protest Xi’s visit as Capital turns into fortress

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 18, 2014 02:06 IST

Tibetans residing in the Capital protested on Wednesday as Chinese President Xi Jinping was accorded a red carpet welcome by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad.

Despite heavy security deployment in anticipation of the protests, people residing in the Tibetan hub in the city — Majnu Ka Tila — gathered to protest the Chinese President’s visit and demanded freedom for Tibet.

Scores of Tibetan families, professionals and students live in the locality in north Delhi. For them, Xi’s visit is a chance to find a greater pitch for their ‘Free Tibet’ campaign.

About 25 people, including members of Tibetan Youth Congress, protested outside the Chinese Embassy located at Shanti Path in Chanakyapuri. The police later detained at least 10 of them while dispersing the rest. Anticipating reaction from Tibetans, Delhi Police had been directed by the Centre to deploy a massive security cover.

While at least four companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF), with 400 armed personnel, were deployed outside the Chinese embassy, personnel of Delhi Police and paramilitary forces were stationed in the Lutyens’ zone to secure Xi’s movement late on Wednesday evening.

Two RAF companies with Delhi Police officers were to stand guard at Hotel Taj, where the Chinese President is scheduled to stay. The security will remain tight on Thursday as well.

Xi is likely to visit 10 places in the capital during his two-day stay. The Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) was earlier planning to organise a march from Ramlila Maidan to Jantar Mantar but the police did not allow it. While the Tibetan groups were not vocal about their plan for Thursday, smaller groups of students and residents said they would mark their protest anyway.

Nearly all shopkeepers at Majnu ka Tila kept their shops shut on Wednesday to protest the visit of the Chinese President. “Barricades were put up in our colony in the morning. By evening, however, they had been eased. We decided to keep our shops closed all day as we are against Jinping visiting here,” said Tenzin Passang, a resident.

There are over 365 Tibetan families in this colony officially called New Aruna Nagar. While they thank India for being a considerate host, they all want the new government to not refrain from discussing Tibet with the Chinese president.

“The situation in Tibet is very critical. Since 2009, over 130 people in Tibet have set themselves on fire. We want such issues to be resolved. The Chinese president must listen to these issues and find a solution for them,” said Tenzing Jigme, president, TYC.

A plea was moved in the Delhi High Court seeking permission to hold peaceful protests today and Friday against Xi’s visit.

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