Hunger strike by Tibetan exiles, monks in Leh enters 35th day

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Leh, Apr 24 (UNI) The hunger strike by Tibetan exiles settled in Ladakh and Ladakhi Buddhists entered its 35th day here today.

Though the two had been holding the hunger strike separately, their aim is the same -- to protest China's use of force in Tibet to quell ''peaceful protests'' which erupted on March 10 in and around Lahsa to mark the 1959 uprising against Beijing.

When the Olympic Torch relay reached the National Capital on April 17, Buddhist monks (Lamas) of Ladakh, in a show of solidarity with their Tibetan counterparts, observed complete Bandh called by Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) and Ladakh Gonpa Association (LGA). Even Muslim-dominated Kargil district observed a total bandh.

A protest rally was held here in which thousands of Buddhists, school students, women and farmers participated.

The protesters assembled at the Polo grounds here where children staged a street play on the Chinese atrocities. The LBA also handed over a memorandum to various Presidents, Prime Ministers, the United Nations and Nobel laureates to highlight the plight of Tibetans. The memorandum also demanded an independent international fact finding committee be sent to Tibet to let the world know about the ''large scale violations of rights '' by the Chinese forces.

They also demanded that China should allow free press to visit the entire Tibet. They also asked Beijing to hold a meaningful negotiation with the Dalai Lama. LBA president lama Lubzang Anchok thanked the Muslims who showed their unity with the victims and observing Kargil bandh.

India had settled over 10,000 Tibetan refugees in Choouglamsar village of Leh district in 1962 giving them land and financial assistance. They have been demanding freedom of Tibet from China and on every March 10 hold protests against Chinese rule on Tibet.

The biggest district in the country as far as the area is concerned, Leh has a predominantly Buddhist population (81.18 per cent) followed by 15.32 per cent Muslim, 2.99 per cent Hindus, and 0.27 per cent Sikhs.

UNI NAB HS PM1440

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