Mini Tibets fortified after immolation bid

By Times of India

NEW DELHI: While the 27-year-old Tibetan activist who attempted self-immolation on Monday battles for life at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Tibetans across the city were subjected to severe police restrictions on Tuesday. Local police, along with the Rapid Action Force, were deployed in the areas with Tibetan settlements and their movements were restricted. By the evening, sections of the Foreigners Act were applied in the city, restricting movements of all Tibetans. 
Around 5.30pm, well-known Tibetan writer, poet and activist Tenzin Tsundue was arrested by policemen in plainclothes from India Habitat Centre, where he was in the middle of an academic discussion on Tibet and India. Seven other activists were also arrested under preventive sections in separate incidents in the New Delhi area. Delhi Police officials said Tsundue had been arrested under preventive sections for his "notorious activities in Bangalore" where he had staged a protest during the Chinese premier's visit in 2005. 

Dhardon Sharling, communications officer for the Tibetan Women's Association who had organized the talk, said, "We had just taken a tea break when some men forcibly picked up Tenzin Tsundue from the lobby of the hall. We pleaded with the police officers to let him answer the questions posed to him during the talk, then take him away. However, they roughly pushed us away. The talk was planned three weeks ago and was in conformity with Indian laws." 

Tibetan MP Youdon Aukhatsang said, "As a preventive measure, police are arresting Tibetan activists. They have just arrested two Tibetans after they held a press conference at the Press Club to issue an appeal of religious leaders on the situation inside Tibet." 

Areas with large Tibetan settlements like Majnu ka Tila, Ambedkar Bhawan and Buddh Vihar Tibetan Market witnessed a clampdown with cops disallowing students, working professionals and tourists to move about freely in the city while citing "apprehension for violence". Though the section 144 CrPC had been imposed only in certain parts of central Delhi, cops restricted the movements of Tibetans all over Delhi. 

Special commissioner of police (law and order) Dharmendra Kumar said, "We had rejected the application of Tibetan activists to hold protests as there are international security concerns. However, when they continued to protest on Monday, we allowed them to sit at Jantar Mantar. But as they turned violent and tried to run towards Parliament, we had to deploy a massive force to contain them and finally arrest 153 of them under preventive sections. We have imposed the Foreigners Act in the city now to restrict the movement of those Tibetans who have come to the city to protest. If they fail to follow the directions, we will take further legal action." 

But residents of these areas complained that they were stopped from going to work, attending college and even going out for regular household activities like buying groceries. "No autos were allowed to carry us, police shooed them away. My friend works in Gurgaon but was not allowed to report to work. Her boss refused to believe her. Police should allow routine facilities like going to hospitals and colleges," said Tenzin Yangki, a student living in Majnu ka Tila. 

The situation was worse at the Tibetan SOS Youth Hostel in Rohini Sector 14 where around 240 Tibetan students are housed. "We have been locked up in the hostel since morning. Many of us have missed our exams and project submission deadlines. We pleaded with police that some of us have exams at 9am but they finally allowed some of us to go to college at 10am. By then, we had already missed the exam. The rest of us have remained confined to the hostel all day and have been told by police not to interact with media," said Palden Sonam. 

When TOI visited the spot, police did not let the team enter the hostel. The photographer was manhandled by police officials, who pushed him out to the main road while shouting at him in offensive language. While the DCP of the area was unavailable for comment, junior police officials of the district cited Section 65 of the Delhi Police Act while physically pushing out the media team. 

Times View 

Given the attempt at self-immolation by a Tibetan protester on Monday and the ticklish nature of India-China ties, it is understandable that Delhi Police is keen to avoid any further incidents of the kind. However, it does not have to be so heavy-handed as to prevent students from leaving their hostel to take their exams. There was no reason why the media should have been barred from meeting these students, as indeed some senior police officials have now admitted. Considering that Delhi Police has much more experience than other state police forces in handling political protests, it should have done much better.

NOTE-- Republished from the Times of India in the interest of general Tibetan readers

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