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2,000 Tibetans stage parallel torch relay

More than 2000 protestors held a rival torch relay in the Capital, hours before the Olympic flame was set to be taken on a short relay. Traffic Advisory.
AFP | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 17, 2008 03:39 PM IST

More than 2,000 protesters held a rival torch relay in New Delhi on Thursday, hours before the Olympic flame was set to be taken on a short and high security jog in the city.

Tibetans, led by Buddhist monks and backed by local supporters, set off from Rajghat, mausoleum of Mahatma Gandhi, the champion of India's non-violent independence movement, carrying a torch they said symbolised a free Tibet.

"Long live the Dalai Lama" and "Stop the killings in Tibet," the protesters shouted as they marched to a square 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles) away from the barricaded site of the Olympic relay.

Indian supporters including parliamentarians, writers and social activists joined the Tibetans.

"As Indians we think we are the motherland of Buddhism. We should support the Tibetans who have upheld their culture and Buddhism," said Rukmini Sekhar, a New Delhi-based Indian marcher.

New Delhi has been barricaded and flooded with thousands of police and soldiers for the Indian leg of the Beijing Olympic torch relay, the most sensitive section of its protest-hit global journey.

Indian officials have been forced to shorten the official relay route in the capital, limiting it to a 2.3-kilometre (1.5-mile) jog along the Raj Path -- an avenue running from the presidential palace to India Gate.

India is home to more than 100,000 Tibetan refugees, including exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and radical youth groups.

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