Preparations, protests neck & neck
A day before the Olympic flame relay, Tibetan protesters again tried to storm the Chinese embassy on Wednesday morning.
Over 65 Tibetan Youth Congress workers gathered near the embassy around 10.30 am and began marching towards the diplomatic installation, holding banners and shouting slogans against Chinese “atrocities” in Tibet.
Police said they stopped 47 protesters before they could reach the embassy’s boundary wall. “They were arrested under preventive detention,” said Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat.
As security personnel sorted out last minute glitches after the drama to ensure a safe passage for the Olympic flame, Tibetan groups in the city were ironing out plans for Thursday.
Ensuring security on Rajpath, the venue of the relay, is not the only worry for security agencies, especially the Delhi Police. Officers said the biggest apprehension was self-immolation bids by protesters who would find it difficult to reach anywhere near the venue. “Possible trouble areas would be important places like Rajghat, Jantar Mantar and the Chinese Embassy. Tibetan hubs, like Majnu ka Tilla and north and south campus, are also quite volatile,” said an officer.
All patrol vehicles were provided blankets and fire extinguishers and policemen had been given instructions not to allow any gatherings even in these areas.
Commissioner YS Dadwal held a series of meetings with policemen on Wednesday. “It is a crucial day, we cannot afford to slip. It’s a question of national pride,” said a police officer.
The police on Wednesday turned down the Tibetan Solidarity Committee’s request for a parallel protest march from Samta Sthal to Jantar Mantar on the day of the relay.
The committee’s member, Tsetan Norbu, said: “We haven’t heard from the police. Our plan is still on. Fifty of us will start the relay and others will join in during the run” That is probably just one of the problems the police might face on Thursday.
Friends of Tibet, another group mobilising the anti-China movement in Delhi, too plans to disrupt the Olympic run in some way. “We will not let the Chinese government play its game on Indian soil. We will take all steps to lodge our protests,” an official release of the group stated.
Konchok of Tibetan Youth Congress said they would protest at Rajpath and India Gate and Paldem Namgyal of Voice of Tibetan Students said their members would extend full support to any sort of protests against the torch relay.