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Tibetans to run parallel torch relay

Protesting Tibetans will run a parallel torch relay for a "free Tibet" in New Delhi on the day of Olympics torch relay.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 14, 2008 07:26 PM IST

As the Beijing Olympics torch relay takes place in the Capital on Thursday, protesting Tibetans will run a parallel torch relay for a "free Tibet" on the other side of the city at the same time.

To be run from Rajghat, Mahatma Gandhi's memorial, to the Jantar Mantar observatory, a major tourist landmark in the heart of Delhi, the Tibetan torch relay will have an estimated participation of nearly 5,000 people, its organisers claim.

Tseten Norbu, of the Tibetan Solidarity Committee (TSC) that is organising the relay and other anti-China protests, said that the "other torch relay" will be run to protest "Chinese atrocities in Tibet".

"Nearly 5,000 people, both Indians and Tibetans, will take part in the Tibetan torch relay to protest against the Chinese atrocities in Tibet and to protest against the Beijing Olympics torch relay here," Norbu told IANS.

"Among the Indians, well- known writer Arundhati Roy (winner of the Booker prize) and politician George Fernandes (former defence minister and socialist leader) will take part in the relay," he added.

Jantar Mantar, where the relay will conclude, will be transformed into "little Tibet" by the protestors on that day, Nordu said.

"Amid all the barricades, we will put up Tibetan tents, replicas of yaks and flowers, have religious congregation...basically create a little Tibet in the heart of Delhi," Nordu said.

Monday morning saw more than 600 Tibetans in exile in India sit for a relay hunger strike at Jantar Mantar, raising slogans for a "free Tibet" and protesting against the Beijing Olympics torch relay.

Calling it the 'Black Monday', since March 10, the 49th anniversary of the Chinese occupation of Tibet fell on a Monday, the protestors sat in the heat sans any food or water.

Aparajita Sarkar, a social activist and another member of TSC, said that a new batch of Tibetans are sitting for the hunger strike everyday.

"Batches of 60 or more Tibetans sit for the hunger strike everyday. But today the number is much more because the Beijing Olympics torch relay to be held in Delhi, is drawing closer," Sarkar told IANS.

"It's a peaceful strike which has been going on in Delhi since March 15. In Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama stays, a similar strike has been going on in front of his house since March 10.

"Among others, who have come from all across India, the strike today also has the 200 marchers of the 'march to Tibet' who had walked from Dharamsala to Delhi over one month's time," said Tenzin Choeying of the group Students of Free Tibet.

Besides sitting for the strike, the protestors also built an enclosure in which a man was caged, signifying the condition of people back in Tibet. They also hung gory photographs of people bleeding, their limbs amputated and crying for mercy to hit home the message.

"The strike will continue at least till the torch relay here. After that we will decide what to do next. We want that the Chinese government has a peaceful talk with his holiness, the Dalai Lama," said one of the protesting monks, Ven. Bagdro.

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