Tibetans in Sikkim offer prayers for victims in Lhasa

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Gangtok, Mar 17 (UNI) Tibetan refugees in and around the Sikkimese capital gathered at the Shera Che monastery at Chandmari today to join a special prayer service in memory of those killed in Lhasa violence.

Monks from the monastery chanted mantras and the gathering silently paid homage to the departed souls.

The prayer service had been organised by Tibetan Youth Club(TYC), with members carrying placards demanding ''Free Tibet - Boycott Olympic'' and ''Wake up UNO''.

Almost all Tibetan shops in Gangtok remained closed today.

TYC president Zimba Pincho said the body does not accept the ''middle path theory'' of the Dalai Lama.

''We demand complete freedom (of Tibet) from China and urge the international body to boycott the Beijing Olympics,'' said Mr Pincho.

Around 5,000 Tibetans settled in different parts of Sikkim with Refugee Certificates, since the early 1960s. Sikkim was a monarchy at the time.

The then Chogyal of Sikkim had in 1968 agreed to rehabilitate 4000 Tibetans fleeing from Tibet on the request of Indian government. The refugees were engaged in developing land in Ravangla in South Sikkim for tea plantation.

Sikkim shares 220 km-stretch of border, along the high mountainous pass, with Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China with the nearest being Nathu La, being around 54 kms. In the past, few Tibetans from the TAR had crossed the border on several occasions only to be caught and pushed back.

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