Exiled Tibetans take out parallel torch relay from Rajghat

April 17th, 2008 - 5:13 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Apr 17 (ANI): Hundreds of exiled Tibetans took out a parallel torch relay in New Delhi today.

They lit the torch at Rajghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, after an inter-religion prayer meeting and pledged to keep the torch alight as it signified the freedom of Tibet and humanity.

The protesting Tibetans carried Tibetan flags, placards and banners with messages such as “Azad Tibet, Surakshit Bharat” and “Free Tibet”.

Social activist Swami Agnivesh and actor- turned activist Nafisa Ali, were among those who participated in the protest.

“The official relay has little spirit of Olympics as it is being organized under extreme security. So we decided to live up to the original spirit of the Olympics and organise a parallel run,” Tseten Norbu, a spokesperson of the Tibetan Solidairy Committee said.

A large number of protestors also assembled at Jantar Mantar, which has been the epicentre of Tibetan protests in the Indian capital for the past several days.

Several Tibetans assembled outside the Le Meridian Hotel and near Rajpath, the venue for the Olympic torch relay, and shouted anti-China slogans.

The protestors were chased away by security personnel. Some were detained.

The Olympic torch, 72-centemetre long and weighing 985 grams, was flown to New Delhi on Thursday morning.

At least 30 colourfully dressed children, both Indian and Chinese were present at the airport to receive the flame.

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi, the Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yan and Chinese embassy officials were also present at the airport on the occasion amid tight security.

The Olympic torch relay will roll down Rajpath on Thursday afternoon.

Cricket star Sachin Tendulkar has excused himself from the torch relay in which actors Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Sagarika Ghatge besides sportspersons like P T Usha and Anju Bobby George will participate.

Leaving nothing to chance in view of intensified protests by Tibetans, the government has decided to put in place a three-layered security ring for the 2.3 km-run on Rajpath, which has been sealed for six hours from one in the afternoon.

Offices flanking Rajpath have been closed.

This is the fourth time that New Delhi is playing host to an Olympic torch relay. (ANI)

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