A little away from main relay, 5,000 Tibetans in parallel run

April 17th, 2008 - 10:51 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 17 (IANS) About 5,000 slogan-shouting Tibetans, including about a thousand monks, the faces of the youth smeared with the colours of the Tibetan flag and wearing T-shirts carrying messages of a ‘Free Tibet’, took out a parallel torch rally in the Indian capital Thursday, barely a couple of kilometres from the Olympic torch relay. The relay was by and large peaceful, monitored and secured as it was closely by hundreds of security personnel and cheered by hundreds of Indian supporters.

The parallel rally, which began at Rajghat at 11 a.m., concluded its around three-km march at Jantar Mantar in the heart of the capital at around 1.35 p.m.

Wearing jerseys and headbands with “Free Tibet” written on them, the rally members also included hundreds of people - mainly college students - sympathetic to the Tibetan cause.

Young and old Tibetans with Tibetan flags and huge banners in their hands divided themselves into several small groups. Each group halted at every traffic signal and screamed “(Chinese president) Hu Jintao kutta, Maro uska Jhotta”, “Long Live Dalai Lama’.

Actor-socialite Nafisa Ali was the first to carry the torch. Later, politician Jaya Jaitley and rights activist Swami Agnivesh also carried the torch.

The rallyists, who were watched by hundreds of curious bystanders, carried placards reading “Free Tibet”, “Stop Cultural Genocide” and “Support Tibet”. The Tibetans also carried a large poster of Hu Jintao, potryaing him as a dragon and killer of innocent people.

Many people had their faces smeared in white paint with the Tibetan emblem or flag painted on it.

A large posse of policemen were seen struggling to clear a gridlock of vehicles on entire stretch of the Rajghat-Delhi Gate-Barakhamba Road-Jantar Mantar route of the rally.

There was an anxious moment when police tried to snatch the dummy torch from Jaya Jaitley near Janpath. The police canned the Tibetan activists for raising a stiff protest.

But it seemed that Tibetans were determined and could not be defeated with physical force.

“Ours is the real torch. It is a symbol of peace and harmony,” said a Tibetan activist.

As the rally reached its destination, hundreds of thousands of activists erupted in joy. They embraced and congratulated each other for the successful completion of their torch run.

A huge tent was set up at Jantar Mantar, where the rally concluded. It resembled a mini-Tibet with monks in their maroon robes and some Tibetans, traditionally dressed, performing dances as the spectators clapped and cheered.

Soon, an uncounted number of Tibetans surrounded the torch, just for a glimpse.

Janata Dal-United leader George Fernandes, addressing the gathering at Jantar Mantar, asked the people to boycott Chinese goods “until the Chinese people give audience to the Dalai Lama and listen to his demands”.

Jaya Jaitley said the police had tried to snatch the torch from her thrice. She described the Beijing Olympics torch as a “torch of shame. This is the real torch”.

Cricketer-turned-politician Kirti Azad said: “I am not against the Olympics but the Beijing Olympics torch is a flame that is burning with the blood of Tibetans.”

The mood was vibrant till the afternoon. Hungry people were immediately offered food and refreshments and they later sat in the huge tents, below huge posters of Tibet - with a passion for freedom in their hearts.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Arunachal Pradesh Kiran Rijju, who has been an ardent supporter of the “Free Tibet” movement, said protests will continue in the capital till the conclusion of the Beijing Olympics.

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