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Home > India > News > Report

I don't want to run with the torch as a caged woman: Kiran Bedi

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | April 09, 2008 11:08 IST

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Former Delhi top cop Kiran Bedi has lashed out at the tight security arrangements ahead of the Olympic torch relay to be held in the Capital on April 17.

"I am a sportswoman. I do not want to run with the torch as a caged woman. Why turn India Gate into a zoo? What is the point of running with the torch? I do not want to participate in a caged environment. If you make the environment so suffocating, then it is better to let the torch travel on wheels or with the Army." Bedi said, speaking exclusively with

Bedi, a former national-level tennis champion, is having second thoughts on participating in the controversial torch relay ceremony to be held in New Delhi.

Bedi's possible turnaround may displease the Chinese. "I am not running to please anybody. I am running out of my love of sports. I am into it purely as a sportswoman," she asserted.

Bedi was invited by Coca-cola to join a group of six celebrities, which includes Aamir Khan, to participate in the ceremony. After initially agreeing, Bedi may reverse her stand.

She told, "Olympics stand for excellence in maximum human endeavour through sports. It also unites humankind in the spirit of sports. But it also stands for universal peace, brotherhood and unity".

When asked about the security concerns vis-�-vis celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar, Aamir Khan and herself, she said, "We are not the target. The target is the torch, which is a symbol. The agitators are just making a point".

When asked if she expects any serious disturbances during the April 17 ceremony, she said, "When I was a police officer, I have dealt with Tibetans. They are tough agitators. They have strong conviction and a will to sacrifice".

Speaking about the government's concerns over security, she said, "Security plays spoil-sport in everything now. It has walled the world completely and taken the joy out of many things. Human concerns are a responsibility, but creative human activity is a necessity".

Explaining her initial decision to join the torch relay ceremony, she told, "I was contacted by Coca-cola to participate in the event. I was invited to be a member of the Coca-cola group at the event. Actor Amir Khan is also the part of the group".

On being invited to participate in the relay, she said, "It is always truly an honour. I was not invited because I was a cop or a diplomat, but because I am a sportswoman. Out of my love of sports, I had accepted the invitation".

"I owe a lot to sports," she said, adding, "Do you think any woman could have entered the Indian police service without a sports background in 1972? My merits as a sportswoman helped me become the first woman police officer in the country".

Asked if she was, in any way, disturbed by the ongoing protests by Tibetans against Chinese action in Lhasa, she replied, "I am not at all surprised, hence not disturbed. This was bound to happen. It should not take anyone by surprise, including China. This is one issue which, till amicably and justly resolved, will remain. It involves the human tragedy of a loss of ones motherland and ones own home".

On the Tibetans' struggle, Bedi said, "Their righteous crusade must go on. My contention is that it should not be linked to the Games. The exhilarating moment of the Olympics should not be a dividing factor. Why should Tibetans be alone in their fight? Why agitate only when the Olympics are on? World attention should be on them otherwise too".

When asked about the pressure on celebrity participants by Tibetans and their supporters to not participate in any events related to Beijing Olympics, she said, "When the IOC awarded China the Olympics Games, they must have considered all these aspects. I strongly believe that the Olympics are a uniting force and should not divide people of the world".

She advised the activists who are supporting the cause of Tibet, "Encouraging the Olympics and the torch relay, the protest becomes more potent. Support can be expressed through interviews, speeches, writings and peaceful congregations without disrupting the Games."

Speaking on the mixing of politics in sports, Bedi said, "I understand that the two are becoming inseparable for various compulsions. But targeting them is killing sports too. And sport is important for humanity. What a sport inculcates, nothing else does".

Complete Coverage: Unrest in Tibet