By Binoy Valsan, Times of India
COIMBATORE: Kunchok Tsering, a 65 year old Tibetan exile and one among the 30 Tibetans residing here near Kattur in the city wore an upbeat expression on his face on Saturday after witnessing the ‘flame of truth’, a symbol of Tibetan struggle for freedom which toured the country and arrived here in the city on Saturday. The southern leg of the torch rally was flagged off on Friday from Kochi in Kerala on the occasion of the 77th birthday of their leader Dalai Lama in the presence of justice V R Krishna Iyer, a staunch supporter of the Tibetan struggle. The torch will be taken to Chennai and Pondicherry in the coming days and Karma Yeshi, a member of the Tibetan parliament in exile is accompanying it.
”Our leader Dalai Lama is getting old and we cannot deny it. We are still trying to ensure that we exert enough pressure on China on all levels and keep our struggle alive. We have been fighting for the last 50 years and will carry on till we get justice,” said Karma Yeshi, Member of Tibetan parliament in Exile.
The city has about 30 Tibetans belonging to about five families residing here in Kattur and Gandhipuram localities and they had collected near District Collectorate where the flame was unveiled on Saturday.
“We received a rousing reception in Kochi along with fellow Tibetans and Indian supporters. Though the Coimbatore halt turned out to be a low key affair we expect a good turnout in Chennai and Pondicherry,” Karma Yeshi added. The flame of truth torch relay has been organised simultaneously from three origin points in the country, from Leh, Ladakh and Shillong. All three are expected to converge in New Delhi on December 10, 2012, which is also World Human Rights Day.
Most of the Tibetans in the city shifted base 16 years ago. Kunchok Tsering is one of the oldest members of the community and has vivid memories of his childhood and his days in Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh after being driven out of Tibet where he used to help the Indian Army transport food rations during the Indo China war in 1962. “I still remember those days and hope that our struggle ends on a successful note,” Tsering said.
Tibetan exiles in the city are mostly engaged in the woollen garment business. They erect temporary roadside stalls near Gandhipuram bus stand from October to February annually.