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Refugees take lead from India's freedom struggle

March 18, 2008

The Times of India
16 Mar 2008

DHARAMSALA: After five decades of wait for a peaceful solution to their
demand for greater autonomy, and after nearly 87,000 lives of their
brethren lost in the ongoing conflict with the "occupying" Chinese, the
community in exile is itching to settle scores.

This impatience is much more obvious in the young ones, who no are
longer content with promises of dialogue. "The Dalai Lama has his own
views and we respect them, but it's time we paid the Chinese back in the
same coin," says Dolma, a student.

Dolma has just come to know that the Dalai Lama has refused to give any
advice to the Tibetans fighting on the streets of Lhasa. Then comes the
observation, "You also had your Gandhi and Bhagat Singh, both from
different schools of thought. And you achieved freedom. We might also
learn a lesson from you," says this petite girl who has just returned
from a protest march arranged by NGOs and educational institutions.

In fact, the first signs of transition were evident even earlier in the
day. On way to McLeodganj from Chandigarh, an unusual sight met the
travellers. At Una, monks and Tibetan youth walked past, almost running,
holding placards that said, "Thank you India, for giving us shelter",
and "Free Tibet, our homeland".

This group of 44 men and women is on their way to Tibet, as part of the
symbolic march of Tibetans towards their homeland and its freedom from
the Chinese. Not one person is willing to break his or her stride and
walk to a media person. "Here, take the number of our media coordinator,
she will tell you everything," says Tsering, a young woman in her teens,
who, then, runs off to catch up with her group.

Just as one enters Dharamsala, several columns of marching Tibetans are
streaming down the hill from McLeodganj. Monks lead the massive march of
over 5,000 men and women, young and old.

And like fire-beathing dragons on the flag, the youngsters chanted,
quaintly Indian, "Gali gali mein shor hai, Hu Jintao chor hai" and
"Tibet ki azadi, Bharat ki suraksa". And then there are bigger issues,
"UN, we want justice," chants a young group, including a Swedish girl
Linda Berggnist, who arrived here on Saturday.
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