Eye on China, India safeguards Olympic torch
15,000 security personnel shielded the Olympic torch on its truncated tour in New Delhi Thursday. Thousands of pro-Tibet protesters were kept from the route.
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"Many Indians support the Free Tibet movement and join in the protests," he says. "The government of India is trying to say, 'There are things we have to do as a state.' And it accepts that citizens can protest within the law; indeed, protesting is an extremely important part of Indian political culture."Skip to next paragraph
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The Tibet issue and its centrality to Indo-Sino relations would not die with the Olympics, he says.
Tibet's proximity to India and China would "play into the countries' territorial relationship for a long time to come," says Mr. Bhaskar. "That's why a stable relationship between the two is needed."
Protesters invoke Gandhi
On Wednesday, the eve of the relay, an activist group, the Tibetan Youth Congress, made its second attempt to storm the Chinese Embassy in central New Delhi. About 100 youths ran toward the main gate of the embassy, some in tears, yelling "Free Tibet" and "stop the killing."
Indian police swiftly broke up the protest, arresting several dozen. On Thursday, police say they arrested dozens more protesters through the day.
But the biggest protest passed off peacefully. More than 2,000 people – mostly Tibetans, but also Indians and Westerners – marched from Raj Ghat, where Mahatma Gandhi's ashes are buried, to Jantar Mantar, a hub for political protests. Some carried pictures of Gandhi, an icon of peaceful demonstration; others, the Dalai Lama.
"I'm here because the Chinese occupation of Tibet is wrong," says Sidarth Gandhi, a student from a local high school carrying a "Free Tibet" poster.
At all times, the protesters were accompanied by a phalanx of police armed with batons and guns.
But finding the right balance between securing a safe passage and allowing dissent has not been easy.
Organizers of Delhi's torch relay have been embarrassed by the withdrawal of several public figures from the event. On the eve of the relay, cricket player Sachin Tendulkar – India's biggest sports star – pulled out of the relay. Though he cited an injury for his decision, many understood his withdrawal to signal disapproval of China's security crackdown in Tibet. Last month, Baichung Bhutia, India's national soccer captain, pulled out of the relay for that very reason.
Bollywood star Soha Ali Khan also backed out, citing "very strong personal reasons." And Kiran Bedi, India's first and most famous female police officer, said she would boycott the event because of the "suffocating security" surrounding it.
Last week, the Tibetan government in exile said it did not support efforts to disrupt the Olympics. "The Tibet government and many people of Tibet are not trying to stop the torch," Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile told reporters in New Delhi. "The Dalai Lama is supporting the Olympics."