India Braces for Olympic Torch Arrival

APA Tibetan woman crying as she is detained Thursday by police near the Chinese Embassy in Katmandu, Nepal.
NEW DELHI -- Chinese cheerleaders and Tibetan protesters greeted the Olympic flame Thursday amid a massive security clampdown for the latest leg of the international torch relay in India, home to the world's largest Tibetan exile community.

Much of New Delhi's leafy British colonial-era center -- the administrative heart of India, home to the presidential palace, Parliament and myriad government ministries -- was being sealed off to traffic and pedestrians by about 15,000 police ahead of the run.

The hundreds of thousands of people who work in the area were being advised to keep a low profile, and to keep off roofs and stay away from the windows of their office buildings.

Authorities desperate to avoid the chaos that has plagued the torch runs in London, Paris and other Western cities had reason to be worried -- even the flame's late-night arrival at New Delhi's airport was marred by small protests.

Some two dozen Tibetan exiles chanted anti-China slogans and protested along a busy highway as the torch made its way into the city after being greeted at the airport by flag-waving traditional Indian dancers and Chinese cheerleaders. Several of the protesters were detained by police.

In Mumbai, India's financial capital, police detained about 25 Tibetans who attempted to breach the barricades around the Chinese Consulate. Protesters shouted "Free Tibet" as they were dragged into police vehicles.

The protests even reached the isolated Indian Himalayan region of Ladakh, which borders Tibet, where at least 5,000 Tibetan exiles and local Buddhists marched amid a strike call that shut down all businesses and schools, said M.K. Bhandari, a senior local official.

Chanting "Free Tibet!" and "Down with China!" the protesters carried Tibetan flags as they marched through Leh, the region's main town. Ladakh is home to about 7,000 Tibetan exiles.