Tibetan activist sets himself ablaze, battles for life

Tibetan activist sets himself ablaze, battles for life

A Tibetan man screams as he runs engulfed in flames after self-immolating at a protest in New Delhi, India. AP

Tibetan activist sets himself ablaze, battles for life

Two days ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to India, a Tibetan protester set himself ablaze at Jantar Mantar Monday during a demonstration by around 100 Tibetans against Hu's visit.

Jamphel Yeshi, a resident of North Delhi's Majnu Ka Tila, set himself on fire around 12.40 p.m. at Jantar Mantar as various speakers were addressing the crowd.

According to eyewitnesses, Yeshi set himself ablaze and ran across the venue. He ran nearly 50 yards before collapsing. He suffered 90 percent burn injuries and is in critical condition at the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, police said.

Protesters initially prevented police from taking the man to hospital, but policemen eventually took him away forcibly.

"This is what China faces unless they give freedom to Tibet. The boy who set himself on fire is not known to our organisation but he took an appreciative step. Some individuals are coming to join the protest so it is difficult to identify them. The protest will continue till Thursday," said Dorjee, a Tibetan leader at Jantar Mantar.

"We are protesting against the human rights violations in Tibet," said the protester.  The Tibetans in exile in India are likely to protest till Thursday against Hu's visit to India, said a Tibetan protester.

Police said they are taking precautions to handle such protests. "Witnessing Monday's self-immolation attempt, security cordons have already been placed to ensure that the protests do not get out of hand," said Sezu P. Kuruvilla, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police.

Hu will be arriving in India to attend the fourth BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in the capital March 28-29 and also hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The attempted self-immolation by Yeshi is one more to a long list of Tibetan protests in recent months. At least 30 people in Tibetan areas of China have set themselves on fire over the past year to protest Beijing's rule over their homeland. The Dalai Lama has blamed China's "ruthless policy" for the self-immolations, while China accuses the Dalai Lama of stirring up trouble.

China says Tibet has always been part of its territory. Tibetans say the Himalayan region was virtually independent for centuries.

Monday's was the second self-immolation in India in recent months. Last year, a young Tibetan exile set himself on fire outside the Chinese embassy. That man suffered minor burns.

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