New Delhi, Apr 18: A day after the peaceful conduct of the Indian leg of the Olympic torch relay here, exiled Tibetans set out on their march back to Tibet on Friday. The Olympic torch passed through the national capital without incident on Thursday amidst tight security.
After more than a month of protests that began soon after the March 10 Chinese crackdown on protestors in Lhasa and nearby provinces, the 1,00,000 strong Tibetan diaspora in India is restive about the Chinese stranglehold and hegemony over Tibet. Several members of the Tibetan diaspora are keen to return to their homeland and fight alongside their brethren for the just rights of the populace in the Himalayan region. Monks dressed in traditional robes began their journey to their 'homeland' demanding autonomy from Chinese rule.
The Tibetans offered prayers at Rajghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, before setting out on their march back to Tibet.
"We have decided that it is time for us to go back to our country because the Tibetan nation and Tibetan people are on the verge of extinction and we have to further strengthen our movement," said Tsewang Rigzin, the president of the Tibetan Youth Congress.
The Tibetans have participated in peaceful protests, hunger strikes, candle-light vigils and demonstrations over the past few weeks in the run up to the August 8 Beijing Olympics.
The exiled Tibetans, seeking an end to Chinese repression in Tibet, have been staging a wave of protests across the country, and especially in the national capital and in Dharamsala.
India has had to tread a careful line as the country's growing ties with China have to be balanced with allowing the Tibetans the right to stage their protests.