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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

India, Pakistan pull out all stops for torch

April 17, 2008

Matt Wade, New Delhi
The Age
April 17, 2008

THE heart of Delhi will be turned into a virtual fortress for the Indian
leg of the Olympic torch relay today, because of fears Tibetan
protesters will cause disruption.

About 15,000 guards, including members of the Indian army's elite "black
cat" commando unit, will protect the torch on its short stay in Delhi.

They will take control of high-rise buildings near the relay route and
helicopters will shadow torch runners.

In Islamabad, the Pakistani leg of the torch relay began yesterday
guarded by thousands of troops and police.

The ceremony took place behind closed doors at Jinnah sports stadium
after organisers slashed the planned route through the capital at the
last minute.

The flame was brought on a traditional horse-driven chariot escorted by
mounted bodyguards of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

The lantern carrying the flame did a round of the stadium and was shown
to the crowd before it was presented to Mr Musharraf and Prime Minister
Yousaf Raza Gilani.

The flame was scheduled to travel from Pakistan to India for one of the
most sensitive stretches of its global voyage.

In a huge blow to the relay, cricket great Sachin Tendulkar pulled out
yesterday.

The rich Indian Premier League cricket tournament starts tomorrow and he
has been advised by his team physio not to take part in the relay due to
a groin injury, the Times of India reported.

Tendulkar's decision not to run follows the withdrawal of several
high-profile Indian participants including the national football team
captain, Baichung Bhutia, who has boycotted the relay in protest at
China's treatment of Tibetans.

Police detained at least 50 Tibetans yesterday for protesting in front
of the Chinese embassy, a day before the Olympic torch was to arrive in
the Indian capital. Earlier about 100 Tibetan youths wearing "Save
Tibet" bandannas and T-shirts used spray paint to write anti-China
slogans on pavements and the road in front of the Chinese embassy in Delhi.

In India, home to the world's largest population of Tibetan exiles,
thousands of Tibetans have arrived in Delhi to demonstrate against
China's occupation of Tibet and the recent crackdown on protests inside
Tibet.

Three weeks ago, relations between India and China were strained after a
group of Tibetans stormed the Chinese embassy in Delhi. The Indian
Government says it will not stop Tibetan protesters as long as they are
peaceful and obey the law.

India's leg of the torch relay was slashed from nine kilometres to 2.5
kilometres because of security concerns.

A large area surrounding the relay route along Delhi's grand parade, Raj
Path, will be cordoned off from noon today.

About 500 "special invitees" and a group of selected school children
will be allowed to watch the relay. The time of the relay and the final
list of participants have been withheld.
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