The couple at the rally in Chandmari on Friday. Picture by Prabin Khaling
Gangtok, Nov. 23: An 88-year-old monk and his 75-year-old wife were the first to reach a camp in Chandmari from where 110km-long a rally to protest the alleged Chinese atrocities against Tibetans started this morning.
Gen Karma and Denlom Karma are the oldest participants in the march in which 150 Tibetans are taking part.
The rally was flagged off from Chandmari, 3km from Gangtok, by social worker Thuck Chuk Lachungpa around 8am.
The marchers reached 32nd Mile, the first halt, around 5pm. The participants would stay in tents for the night and would be served food by the organisers.
The march would resume tomorrow morning and proceed towards Tarkhola in Bengal. The rally is supposed to end at Salugara near Siliguri on November 27 after covering 110km.
The march is organised by the Tibetan Youth Club of Gangtok.
“We were shocked to hear that the old couple wanted to take part in the rally. We asked them to be at home and pray but they insisted on joining the march. We had no other option but to agree,” said the president of the Tibetan Youth Club of Gangtok, Chung Chung Bhutia.
The couple who work as volunteers in the Old Rumtek Monastery in East Sikkim have been married for 50 years.
“We have come to attend the rally for a cause which is much more important than our lives. We are determined to walk under any circumstance. We are carrying champa (sattu) which will give us more energy to walk,” said Gen Karma carrying a Tibetan flag.
Gen came to India in 1959 at the age of 35 through Nathu-la along the Indo-China border.
“I came to Sikkim along with other fellow Tibetans during the Tibetan movement,” Gen Karma said. The couple have two sons who work elsewhere.
The organisers said a medical team was accompanying the participants. “We have a medical team comprising a doctor and two para medical workers to look after the couple and others who may fall ill while marching,” said the president of the club.
He added that Rs 1 lakh would be spent for the march and the amount had been donated by Tibetans across Sikkim.
“The couple in this age are motivating us with their presence. They really deserve appreciation,” said Dawa Doma, a participant.