Saturday, June 21
Olympic torch in Tibetan capital
by Raghavendra, Press Trust of India,
Beijing, June 21, 2008
The Olympic torch made its way through the Tibetan capital Lhasa amidst tight security today, three months after the deadly riots hit the remote Himalayan region during anti-China protests spearheaded by monks.
The 9.3 km relay kick-started from Norbulingka, known as the Summer Palace of the Dalai Lama, with 156 torch bearers, including 75 Tibetans, and wound its way through the streets in Lhasa as the security personnel kept a close vigil.
"We are convinced that the Olympic Games torch relay in Lhasa will further inflame the patriotic spirit of the people," Lhasa Communist Party chief Qin Yizhi said at the opening ceremony.
Groups of people cheered and students waved the Chinese flags and Olympic banners.
On the eve of the relay, the Tibet Autonomous Regional government Executive Vice-Chairman Palma Trily said the government was confident of a "safe and successful" relay in Tibet.
Police have been deployed for security but there was none from the People's Liberation Army as "their duty is to guard the frontier and protect the territory," he was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.
The relay in Tibet confined to Lhasa only for a day after a three-day programme was scaled down with organisers citing the devastating earthquake in Sichuan province in southwest China that has left nearly 69,200 people dead as the reason.