Tibetans continue protest as Torch relay reaches Delhi tonight

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New Delhi/Leh, Apr 16 (UNI) The soaring tempratures in the National Capital and an untimely snowfall in Leh, nestled at 11,975 ft above sea level, have failed to deter Tibetan refugees with their anti-China protests hours before the Olympic Torch is to reach New Delhi from the Pakistan capital.

As people in the national capital preferred to stay indoors following a sudden rise in day temprature, as many as 100 Tibetans tried to breach security cordon around the Chinese Embassy this morning.

Police said 47 of them, including 16 women, were detained and the rest were pushed back into buses they had arrived in near the embassy at Chanakyapuri, which has been under a heavy security blanket since anti-China protests broke out in March.

Wearing black head bands with ''Free Tibet'' slogan and carrying Tibetan flags, the protestors spray-painted ''No Olympics in China'' on a street near the embassy.

Taking security establishment by surprise, 27 Tibetans had yesterday taken out their own 'torch relay' on Rajpath, the designated route for tomorrow's Olympic flame run.

The Tibetan refugees are planning a massive protest in Leh tomorrow morning to coincide with the Olympic Torch relay run in New Delhi. But a sudden snowfall this morning in Leh and Kargil left several of the protestors stranded. At least three flights to Leh from Delhi and other places today were cancelled following bad weather.

''We are used to sudden weather swings...it will not deter us from carrying out the protest,'' Shatuk Chama in Leh, one of the organisers of the protest.

Leh, with an area of 45110 Sq Km, is the largest district in the country in terms of area.

The Olympic Torch is expected to arrive here from Islamabad later today and the relay will be held along the Rajpath tomorrow, under unprecedented security.

India is home to a large Tibetan Community and the government is going all out to ensure the torch relay tomorrow passes off peacefully, after incidents of protests in London, Paris and San Francisco.

There is going to be a three-layer security ring for the event.

About 15,000 police personnel, NSG commandos and paramilitary forces will be on the streets to man security for the event.

Ahead of the event, the Home Ministry yesterday reviewed the security arrangements.

All necessary arrangements are being made to ensure that the brief event passes off peacefully, a Ministry spokesman told mediapersons after an hour-long meeting presided over by Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta.

The relay was reduced to 3.5 km on the well-secured Rajpath, access to which would be blocked by the police.


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