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India trims Olympic torch route on protest fears
Bappa Majumdar | April 15, 2008 14:33 IST
India has trimmed the route for the Olympic torch relay this week, fearing Tibetan protesters might try to disrupt the procession, an official said on Tuesday.
The final route is still to be announced, but the Indian media have reported the torch will travel less than a third of the original 9 km distance in one of New Delhi's most heavily guarded neighbourhoods on Thursday.
"The route has been curtailed. We are meeting now to decide all the plans for the relay," Randhir Singh, Secretary-General of the Indian Olympic Association, said.
The Dalai Lama [Images], the Tibet [Images]an spiritual leader, and the Tibetan government-in-exile are based in northern India and the country has had dozens of anti-China protests since last month's deadly riots in Tibet and surrounding regions.
In one protest, Tibetan exiles scaled the walls of the Chinese embassy in New Delhi last month.
China reacted strongly, summoning the Indian envoy to Beijing [Images] to express its displeasure and urge New Delhi to ensure adequate security for the Olympic torch, which has been a magnet for protests across the world.
Tibetan leaders in India said they are preparing to protest in spite of the heavy security.
"We know about the security, but we must protest against what China is doing in Tibet," Tenzing Norsang, a Tibetan leader said.
"Our protest against the Olympic torch will continue and we will march holding our own torch demanding Tibet's independence."
Indian officials called a meeting to review security of the torch after China's foreign minister called his Indian counterpart this month seeking assurances.
Indian football captain Baichung Bhutia has refused to carry the Olympic torch in protest against China's response to the unrest in Tibet.