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Olympic torch met by Delhi protests

The Olympic torch for the Summer Games in Beijing has arrived in India’s capital amid demonstrations against China by Tibetan exiles.

Indian Olympic officials greeted the flame as it landed at a military airport in New Delhi early on Thursday.

It was then taken along a route lined with hundreds of police to spend the night at a hotel.

There have been a series of protests across India - the heart of the world’s Tibetan exile community - in recent weeks by Tibetan exiles opposing Beijing’s rule in Tibet.

Around two dozen Tibetan exiles protested along a busy highway as the torch made its way into town, chanting anti-China slogans.

Several of them were forcibly detained and taken away in police vans.

India ‘tiptoeing’ -

Matt McClure, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in New Delhi, said: "Authorities are sort of tiptoeing a tightrope if you would.

"India is obviously the world’s largest democracy, protests are a regular part of life here, but they are also eager not to offend their Chinese neighbours as they try to expand trade ties.

"The route has been shortened and every effort has been made to prevent any disruption of the event."

The torch has been beset by protests through Europe and the Americas, mostly over a Chinese crackdown in Tibet.

Tibetans planned to hold a parallel torch relay on Thursday to protest against Chinese action and demand Tibet’s independence.

The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, meanwhile, has voiced his support for the Beijing Games and has urged Tibetans to desist from disrupting the torch relay.

The torch was in neighbouring Pakistan on Wednesday.

The Trembling Run of the Torch – A Timeline

Before Thursday, April 17:

April 6: Chaotic march for the Olympic torch through London’s streets as number of pro-Tibet activists broke the security cordon several times. Protestors attempted to snatch the torch and even extinguish it.

April 7: The torch relay in Paris was cut short after chaotic protests by anti-China protestors. The flame had to be extinguished at least five times by security forces. Many events to mark the torch’s passing were also cancelled.

April 8: A day before the torch was to arrive in San Francisco protestors scaled the Golden Gate Bridge to put up ‘Free Tibet’ signs over it. However, game of hide and seek in San Francisco on the day of the relay... authorities changed route at last minute... it was a comparatively peaceful relay.

April 15: Tibetan protestors took out their own torch relay at Rajpath at around the same time when over 500 security men were being briefed about the security arrangements at Rajpath.

April 16: Just a day ahead of the torch run in New Delhi, about Tibetan exiles tried to breach the security cordon around the Chinese embassy. They shouted slogans and tried to scale the walls of the embassy but were stopped by the Delhi police.

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