India says no Chinese security for Olympic torch
As the clock started ticking for the arrival of the Olympic torch in New Delhi, India on Wednesday said no Chinese personnel would be involved with the security of the torch relay and assured that there will be no repeat of the London and Paris hitches on the restricted route in the Indian capital.
New Delhi also stressed that no Tibetan would be allowed near the torch route between Rashtrapati Bhavan and India Gate, but added that they can hold their protests elsewhere in the city.
"As per international rules, there will be torch attendants from China. There will be two Chinese torch attendants accompanying the flame on the route," Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi told reporters.
"But there will be no Chinese security. The safety of the torch is India's responsibility," he stressed.
"We have taken only normal security measures. Our security is much less than what they had elsewhere in the world," Kalmadi said when it was pointed out that the security along the Olympic route outstripped that on Republic Day.
"We are confident that the relay will be successful. We don't want a repeat of what happened in London and Paris," he said while alluding to disruptions of the torch relay in Paris and London recently by pro-Tibet protesters.
With China and the world community watching the passage of the torch relay through India, where Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama lives and has set up his government-in-exile in Dharamsala, the government has left no stone unturned to ensure that the torch relay passes off without a hitch.
"It's a sacred torch. The entire world community is looking at how the torch relay goes in India. We shall have a great torch relay tomorrow," he said.
Seventy Indians, including eminent athletes and sports personalities like PT Usha and Anju Bobby George, will be participating in the 2.5-km torch relay down Rajpath here on Thursday afternoon. The road is being closed to the public at 1 pm.
Kalmadi, however, chose to keep the exact timing of the relay under wraps in view of fears about Tibetan protesters trying to mar the show.
The fears of disruptions are very real. On Wednesday, about 100 Tibetan activists tried to storm the Chinese embassy. However, the protestors were whisked away by the police.
Commandoes from paramilitary forces and thousands of policemen have been posted along the route from the presidential palace Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate, the World War I monument in the heart of the capital.
Some Tibetans who have been camping here ahead of the Olympic torch relay have reportedly gone missing, "probably to stage surprise attacks", said intelligence officials.