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Tibetans hold anti-China protests in Nepal
Kathmandu, Mar 10 (IANS)
Published on 10 Mar. 2010 10:56 PM IST
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Hundreds of Tibetans, including Buddhist monks and nuns, Wednesday remembered their forefathers’ uprising against the Chinese annexation of their land in 1959 and chanted slogans for a free Tibet in Kathmandu despite a massive police crackdown and arrests. A dozen young Tibetans, including women, courted arrest in front of the consular office of the Chinese government in Kathmandu, from where visas to Tibet are issued, by shouting “Free Tibet” and making a dash towards the heavily guarded office. The protests were more impressive in the Boudhanath area, the revered Buddhist shrine that forms the backbone of the Tibetan diaspora in Kathmandu. Hundreds of Tibetans, with some westerners also joining in, waved the banned old Tibetan flag and encircled the shrine asking for the killings in Tibet by Chinese forces to stop. “Long live the Dalai Lama”, the protesters shouted in allegiance to their exiled leader, who fled Tibet in 1959 after Chinese troops put down the rebellion ruthlessly and over 80,000 people were massacred. Prior to the protests, the diaspora held a religious ceremony at a monastery in remembrance of the dead of 1959 as well as the hundreds of people arrested and tortured while remembering the uprising in Tibet two years ago. The Dalai Lama’s unofficial representative in Nepal, Thinley Gyatso, read out the message issued by the Dalai Lama from Dharamshala, which calls for transparency and the free flow of information within China as the means for building greater understanding of the true situation in Tibet and greater trust between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. Police baton charged the protesters twice and blocked the way to the shrine so that they could not demonstrate outside. Four protesters were arrested from Boudhanath while Tuesday night, in a preemptive bid, police arrested two more Tibetans from the same area. Security was also beefed up in along the border Nepal shares with Tibet while the Chinese authorities have grounded flights from Kathmandu to Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, virtually closed the bridge connecting northern Nepal with Tibet and asked tour operators to suspend Tibet tours till March 28. Nepal minister quits over media baron furore A month after the killing of Nepal’s controversial media tycoon Jamim Shah, who was alleged to have been underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s aide, the Pandora’s box the broad daylight shooting in the capital’s VVIP area opened has claimed its first victim in the government with the Home Minister for State, Rizvan Ansari, being forced to quit. Ansari, who belongs to Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal’s Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), became the first cabinet scapegoat following a series of high-profile shootings that exposed the deteriorating security situation in the turbulent republic. Ansari, who had claimed there was no connexion between the crimes and politicians, was asked by the prime minister to resign not in a bid to boost accountability but to shield Ansari’s senior colleague, Home Minister Bhim Rawal, who has refused to budge despite growing calls for him to step down by his own party members. Ansari, who resigned on Wednesday, had been an aggressive critic of Rawal, asking him to step down on moral grounds. Though Jamim Shah, who was alleged by Indian security agencies to be involved in running a fake Indian currency network through Pakistan, Nepal and India, was killed on Feb 7, the gunman and his partner are still at large. According to Nepal Police, the meticulous execution was planned by Indian underworld don Babloo Srivastav from his stay behind bars in Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly Prison. Though police and Nepali society remain tightlipped about the reason behind Shah’s killing, Information and Communications Minister Shankar Pokhrel has been the only one to indicate it was not an attack against the media. According to Pokhrel, Shah was killed because of his “business activities”, though the minister did not elaborate on the nature of the business. The critical thing, from India’s point of view, is the pervasive influence of external forces on Nepal’s security apparatus. A major safety concern for India is the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu that since the 1990s has been running on a “tender” system. When the system started, a Nepali businessman based in New Delhi, Dipak Malhotra, won the tender that has the knowledge and approval of Nepali authorities, security sources say. For a sum of money, Malhotra was given the run of the airport and his associates could bring in any goods they wanted without being intercepted by customs. However, since nearly two years ago, Malhotra has been ousted by an “Islamic” alliance that has reportedly paid an astronomical sum to gain control of the airport. The magnitude of the sum makes Indian intelligence agencies suspect the shipments coming through have to be either drugs, fake Indian currency or even arms. The regular arrest of people in India suspected of terrorist activities and with links to Nepal has been indicating Nepal becoming a hub of international gangs and the airport tender leads credence to such fears.

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