Olympic torch route in India shortened

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{image-olympic torch_03042008.jpg news.oneindia.in}New Delhi, April 3: Government of India has decided to cut short the Olympic torch relay route and  put security officials on high alert after learning that Tibetan activists intended to disrupt the event, reports said Thursday.

The move is intended to prevent “embarrassing" protests as the flame passes through the country later this month, officials said.Concern over the event will see police and security officials ordered to keep a close eye on exiled Tibetan groups.The Olympic torch had been scheduled to be carried from the Red Fort to India Gate, a distance of around nine kilometres (six miles), but will now only travel a mere 2-3 kilometres on Indian soil, the Press Trust of India reported.

“The route has been shortened and the details of it will be made known on a later date," Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Secretary General Randhir Singh said.

According to an Indian Home Ministry security advisory seen by AFP, “Tibetan activists intend to disrupt the event" and police need to “remain alert at all times."A close and strict vigil may be kept on various groups that may oppose the event" and security agencies must “take necessary action to prevent such illegal activity that could be embarrassing to the government of India," the advisory said.

It also called for “pre-emptive" action to avoid protests and rallies “at the vicinity of the event" and said even those invited to the event must be frisked for anti-Chinese banners or placards at the venue.
On Tuesday, India"s football captain Bhaichung Bhutia said he had refused to carry the flame when it comes to New Delhi to protest China"s crackdown on protests in Tibet.

Tibetan activists in India have also threatened to disrupt the relay, and late last month a number of them managed to get into the Chinese embassy complex in the Indian capital.

Analysts said the advisory was part of New Delhi"s toughening stance on the Tibetan exiles, who found sanctuary in India after they fled their homeland following a failed anti-Beijing uprising in the Himalayan region in 1959.

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959, has repeatedly said he backs the August Games and has rejected Beijing"s charges he is seeking to sabotage the event.

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