Students in Delhi University, one of the premier universities in India, on January 17 started a chapter of the Students for a Free Tibet (SFT). Over 600 students, majority of whom were non-Tibetans attended the inaugural session, which was addressed by the Dalai Lama’s representative in New Delhi, Kasur Tashi Wangdi, the Tibetan language radio Voice of Tibet (VOT) reported on January 18, 2002. Among others who made remarks were Indian photojournalist Vijay Kranti and Indian Soccer star Baichung Bhutia.

Although SFT has chapters all over the United States, Europe and Australia-New Zealand regions, this is the second one in India. Students at the Tibetan Children’s Village school in Dharamsala started the first SFT in India in 1997.

Kranti talked on the reasons why Indians need to be concerned about the Tibetan issue, VOT reported. Bhutia, who was a member of the Indian national soccer team and currently plays for a British club, extended his support to the work of SFT, according to Jamyang Dorjee of the Bureau of H.H. the Dalai Lama in New Delhi. Bhutia is ethnic Tibetan, having been born in Sikkim.

The session ended with a music concert by the group, JJI brothers, which is based in Dharamsala.

The Delhi University SFT has set up a 15-person committee, which will chalk out an action plan. Their hope is that SFT will expand in different parts of India.