(dpa) - Indian national capital New Delhi was turned into a virtual fortress Thursday as Tibetans began protests soon after the arrival of the Olympic torch in the city.
About 50 Tibetans were detained when they gathered and held protests on roads near the international airport and a hotel near the relay route where the torch was supposedly kept, police said.
Tibetans wearing "Free Tibet" shirts and holding multi-coloured Tibetan flags assembled near the Le Meridien hotel and shouted anti-China slogans.
Some of them tried to scale the wall of the hotel but were caught by security agents and taken to the local police station, the NDTV network reported.
The Olympic torch arrived in Delhi from Islamabad shortly after 1 am (local time) and was received by Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi and Chinese envoy Zhang Yan amid heavy police presence.
Indian authorities mounted unprecedented security arrangements, as news channels reported that keeping the torch safe had almost become a "national mission."
Nearly 15,000 police and paramilitary personnel as well as surveillance helicopters were guarding the 2.6-kilometre stretch between the presidential palace and India Gate, the venue of the torch relay to be held late Thursday afternoon.
Commandos from the elite National Security Guard will be on guard to prevent any attempt to disrupt the run in the area, which was virtually sealed as no vehicular traffic being allowed.
Besides 70 torchbearers including former Indian Olympic Games participants tennis player Leander Paes and athletes Anju Bobby George and PT Usha, only participating schoolchildren and special IOA invitees will be allowed at the venue.
All doors and windows of buildings facing the relay route will remain closed from 1 pm to 6 pm and office workers would not be allowed to enter or leave the area during this period or to be on rooftops.
Tight security was also in place near the Chinese embassy and on routes near the international airport where protests were expected during the day.
Huge numbers of police were deployed near Rajghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, from where an estimated 5,000 Tibetans planned to stage a parallel "peace run."
At Jantar Mantar area in the heart of Delhi, Tibetan monks held prayers holding placards reading: "China Stop Killing in Tibet" and "Release Panchen Lama."
Tibetan refugee groups in India have been holding protests leading up to the torch relay and the Beijing Olympics, saying they want to use the occasion to draw international attention to China's human rights violations in Tibet.
The India leg of the torch relay is considered one of the most sensitive, as the country is home to about 100,000 Tibetan refugees, estimated to the largest concentration of Tibetans outside Tibet.
Local media reported that India's top boxer, Vijender Kumar, who is participating in the Beijing Olympics, had pulled out of the torch relay, showing support for the Tibetan cause.
Four Indian personalities including Indian football captain Baichung Bhutia, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, former police official Kiran Bedi and film star Soha Ali Khan have already withdrawn from the relay for different reasons.