New Delhi, Apr 17: Despite heavy security arrangements, exiled Tibetans protested against the arrival of the Olympic torch in New Delhi early on Thursday morning. The Olympic torch, 72-centemetre long and weighing 985 grams, was flown to New Delhi in a specially designed flight from Islamabad. The plane landed at Palam technical area at 1.10 a.m.
Colourfully dressed children, both Indian and Chinese, were present at the airport to receive the flame. Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Suresh Kalmadi and the Chinese Ambassador to India Zhang Yang were also present at the airport. A large number of security personnel were deployed to keep anti-Chinese protesters at bay. Tibetans protestors protested outside hotel Le Meridien, the first destination of the Olympic torch in New Delhi, situated closest to Rajpath, where the relay will take place. The protestors shouted anti-China slogans like 'Justice for Tibet' and 'We want freedom'. Police had to arrest protestors who tried to break the security barrier and enter the hotel.
The government has deployed thousands of police for the Olympic torch relay, which is scheduled to be held later in the day. They also kept the time of the run a secret because of fears Tibetan protesters might try to disrupt the ceremony. The protests have forced India to trim the route to a third of the original 9-km distance, restricting it to a high-security stretch used for the annual Republic Day parade in the capital. India has been caught in a swirl of protests by exiled Tibetans since last month's unrest in Tibet, and despite the Dalai Lama's support for the Beijing Games, the protesters have vowed to disrupt the flame's journey in New Delhi. The Dalai Lama has urged Tibetans to desist from disrupting the torch relay, but protests have continued.