New Delhi, Apr 17 : The shortened Olympic torch relay, which lasted for about 40 minutes from Vijay Chowk went off smoothly and without incident on Thursday afternoon to India Gate along the historic Rajpath.
Defended by about 17,000 security personnel, the torch was carried from Vijay Chowk even as exiled Tibetans protested across country.
For over five hours, Rajpath was turned into a security fortress with all key government offices including the North and South blocks shutting down.
With a three-layered security ring akin to the Republic Day arrangements in place, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit handed over the Olympic flame to Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi. Vice-chairman of the Beijing Olympics Organising Committee, Jiang Yu was also present on the occasion.
Athlete Milkha Singh, had the honour of leading the relay before the torch changed hands with nearly 70 celebrities including sportsmen, film stars and politicians enroute to the India Gate, the memorial dedicated to the martyred soldiers of world war one and two.
Sportsmen Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupati, Aslam Sher Khan, Dhanraj Pillay, Zafar Iqbal, Wilson Cherian, Khazan Singh, K Malleswari, K Kunjurani, Bishen Singh Bedi were among others who took part in the event. Film stars Aamir Khan and Saif Ali Khan also participated.
Para Olympian Rajinder Singh Rahelu, who was on a wheelchair, was among those who carried the torch, which was kept at the Le Meridian Hotel.
Earlier about 60 Tibetans were detained as they tried to block roads and entered into minor scuffles with the police across the city.
In Mumbai, 45 Tibetans including nine women were detained after they attempted to hold a protest rally near the Chinese Consulate located in the business district of Nariman Point, police said.Tibetans also staged protests in Bangalore.
The public was kept out of the event and all access roads to Rajpath were shut for several hours to ensure smooth passage for the torch relay. The torch is now headed towards Thailand Capital Bankok.
Story first published: Thursday, April 17, 2008, 19:33 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 17, 2008