Tibetans hold rallies protesting Olympic Torch relay

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New Delhi, Apr 17 (UNI) Tibetans took out rallies in parts of the country today to protest China's ''repression'' in Tibet, coinciding with the Olympic Torch relay in the national capital which went off peacefully amidst tightest security arrangements.

In an attempt to ''overshadow'' the Olympic Torch relay in India, Tibetans took out a symbolic parallel torch run in the national capital to seek independence for the Himalayan region, organised by the Tibetan Solidarity Committee.

Former Defence Minister George Fernandes flagged off the parallel torch run named 'the Torch 4 Tibet' from Rajghat barely few hours ahead of the actual relay.

Meanwhile, security agencies in the Capital heaved a sigh of relief as the Olympic Torch completed its 2.3 km run from Rashtrapati Bhavan to Rajpath peacefully with Legendary runner Milkha Singh and cine star Aamir Khan leading the star parade.

It was a heady mix of sports and glamour with filmstars rubbing shoulders with athletes.

But the protest rallies for Tibetan cause in different parts of the country also attracted much attention and solidarity.

In Mumbai 45 Tibetans were detained outside the Chinese Consulate in the crowded Nariman point area when they were protesting the Olympic Torch run in the national capital.

In Uttarakhand the state capital also witnessed the heat of Tibetan protest as their relay hunger strike entered its 23rd day today and preparations were made for a peaceful rally to coincide with the Olympic Torch run in the national.

The agitators said the motive of the strike was not to voice opposition against the Beijing Olympics, but to convice the Chinese government that Tibetans also have a right to recognition.

'' We have a six-point charter of demands stipulated by the Tibetan Solidarity Committee which we want the Chinese government to fulfil and our indefinite strike will continue until the demands are met,'' secretary of the Hunger Strike Tanzing said.

The northeast states also showed their solidarity with the Tibetan community as Tibetans living there took out a 'black torch' rally in Guwahati to protest the ongoing Chinese crackdown in Tibet with banners reading ''Free Tibet'' and Tibetan flag, organised by the Convenor of Himalaya Parivar.

In Nagaland too the Tibetan and Bhutanese community kept all their business establishments closed as a token of solidarity with the present situation in Tibet. All the Tibetan businessmen at the famous Hong Kong Market in Dimapur downed their shutters.

The Tibetan and Bhutanese Welfare Association also called for mass prayers for the victims of Chinese aggression and crackdowns, taking place since the latest uprising in Tibet.

In Leh, thousands of people led by Buddhists took out a massive rally in support of Tibetans' demand for autonomy, with hundreds of school students holding banners and placards on the main road. The rally was led by Buddhist monks associated with Ladakh Buddhist Association and Ladakh Gongpa Association.

UNI TEAM SP HT1920

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