olympics torch 'a flame of shame'

NEW DELHI - Thousands of members of the world's largest community of exiled Tibetans protested against the arrival of the Olympic torch in India yesterday, holding rallies and staging alternative relays of Buddhist prayer lamps.

NEW DELHI - Thousands of members of the world's largest community of exiled Tibetans protested against the arrival of the Olympic torch in India yesterday, holding rallies and staging alternative relays of Buddhist prayer lamps.

The torch, which is en route to China for the Summer Games in Beijing on a journey marked by demonstrations, arrived on a plane before dawn. It was then taken along a route lined with hundreds of police, to spend the rest of the night in a hotel.

Police detained about two dozen Tibetan protesters along the route and in front of the hotel. Many were dragged into police vans as they shouted anti-China slogans.

Later thousands of Tibetans marched through the capital in a parallel relay to protest against Chinese policies, particularly its crackdown on unrest in their homeland, and demanded independence for Tibet. They carried golden prayer lamps.

"China's torch is a flame of shame," read one of their banners.

"There cannot be any Games without Tibet. Bring Tibet to the Games," said Tenzing Khentssin, dressed in a white "Torch Tibet" T-shirt as he marched amid chanting protesters.

In the mainly Buddhist region of Ladakh in India's Himalayas, thousands of people, including monks clad in traditional red robes, marched to show solidarity with the protesters. - Reuters

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