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Mumbai: 4 Tibetans attempt suicide in protest over Hu visit

Last updated on: November 23, 2006 21:08 IST

Police prevented suicide bids by four Tibetans while hundreds more staged a hunger strike during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit in Mumbai on Thursday to protest the "forcible" occupation of Tibet by Beijing.

Nhakpa Tsering, a 24-year-old Tibetan student from Bangalore, attempted to immolate himself on Thursday morning outside the luxury hotel where the Chinese president stayed during his day-long visit.

Tsering, a Tibetan Youth Congress activist, was arrested soon after the bid and charged for attempting suicide. He suffered minor burn injuries on his leg.

Three more Tibetan activists were detained by police on the Marine Drive flyover just as they were about to attempt suicide by jumping off the bridge in the afternoon.

They were detained minutes before Hu was scheduled to pass through the area on his way to the airport, police said.

Police said 13 activists gathered outside Hu's hotel at 8.30 am and Tsering attempted to immolate himself. He was stopped by police officials deployed in the area.

All the activists shouted slogans against the "illegal and forcible" occupation of Tibet by China as they were taken away by police.

Tsering and the other activists will be produced in a local court later, police said.

A group of about 200 Tibetans staged a day-long hunger strike at the Azad Maidan in Mumbai to protest Hu's visit. 

The protest at Azad Maidan was organised by the Tibetan Sweater Sellers' Union of Maharashtra and Gujarat and Friends of Tibet.

"Hu Jintao, as head of the Tibetan Autonomous Region in 1989, imposed martial law in Tibet and ordered a violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, killing thousands of innocent Tibetans," Phuntsok, one of the protestors, said.

The protestors shouted slogans like "Free Tibet" and "End oppression in Tibet."

Since China's "illegal and forcible occupation" of Tibet in 1950, over 1.3 million Tibetans had been massacred, Phuntsok alleged.

Hu Jintao arrived in Mumbai from Agra late on Wednesday night and attended some official functions at the hotel in south Mumbai before leaving for Islamabad at 2.05 pm, officials said.

During the visit of Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji in 2002, Tibetan activist Tenzin Tsudoe had climbed to the 14th floor of a south Mumbai hotel and unfurled the Tibetan flag with "Free Tibet" written on it.

Zhu was speaking to delegates of the Indian industry in the hotel when the incident occurred.

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