Monks on mission, cycling across India for Tibet

January 28th, 2009 - 5:31 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS) Imbued with commitment to reversing the fate of the Tibetan community-in-exile, a group of nine young monks has set out cycling through India to raise awareness about Tibet. Their journey began Jan 18 from Varanasi. The monks reached Delhi Wednesday morning.

“From Varanasi they cycled through Lucknow, Kanpur, Aligarh, Karnal and Noida. At all these places they held lectures and distributed information flyers,” said Tsering Dorji, a monk hosting them in the Tibetan settlement Majnu ka Tila in north Delhi.

The monks will organise a demonstration at the Jantar Mantar Thursday, after which they will get on with their 800 km long journey. Their next destination is Agra, followed by Jhansi, Bhopal, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Vijaywada, Chennai and finally Hubli where they plan to reach by Mar 10.

“At each of the places, a function is being organised by local-level Tibetan organisations to spread awareness on the Tibet issue,” Dorji explained.

Tibetan Rights and Freedom Restoration Committee, an NGO-based in Mandkot near Hubli, Karnataka, is supporting the monks in their endeavour.

Ven Gangri, the leader of the nine monks, who can speak only in his native Tibetan tongue and Kannada said: “We have four main demands. Firstly, release all political prisoners in Tibet including Panchen Lama. Secondly that the Chinese stop denouncing his holiness the Dalai Lama.”

The third and fourth demands are to “stop the sanitisation efforts in Tibet by withdrawing the re-education programme” and “on the reincarnation issue, withdrawing the Chinese government resolution not recognising the reincarnation of the Lama”.

Asked if cycling is strenuous, Gangri smiled and said: “Not at all - we are all young. The youngest is 21 and the oldest is 37-years-old.”

A Scorpio vehicle carrying essential food and provision accompanies the bicycle-borne monks.

There are an estimated 600,000 Tibetan refugees in India, who fled their homeland in 1959 after Chinese troops crushed their uprising. Tibetans have settled in Delhi, Bangalore and several places, but their main centre is in the Himalayan resort of Dharamsala, the home of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

When questioned if the monks faced any hardships or resistance on their way, Gangri said: “It is very easy and comfortable to travel in India.”

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