A Tibetan demonstrator on January 16, 2002 dramatically unfurled the Tibetan national flag and a huge banner with “Free Tibet” written on it from the 12th floor of a hotel in Bombay where visiting Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji was staying.

According to the Friends of Tibet, INDIA (FOT), Tenzin Tsundue, a research scholar and general secretary of FOT, the high drama started at 1020am and lasted 35 minutes until more than 400 policemen and Chinese/Indian secret police surrounded the entire building. Tsundue managed to climb almost 16 floors of the Oberoi Towers, Nariman Point where Premier Zhu Rongji was staying.

Police team worried that Tsundue was planning to jump off the building, spread a safety cordon complete with a safety net. At around 10:45 am, amidst a minor scuffle, Tsundue was pulled in from the window where he was precariously perched.

However, Tsundue’s act was not pre-planned, said activists. Contrary to what the police claimed, the Friends of Tibet organisation said that Tsundue had no intention of jumping off the building. “Tibetans do not believe in suicide or killing. Tsundue is passionate about the cause of a free Tibet like all of us and this was his way of getting public attention towards the issue,” said Aspi Mistry of Friends of Tibet (INDIA).

More than 120 activists of Maharashtra Tibetan Refugee Association and Friends of Tibet (INDIA) were detained by the police near the Prince of Wales museum.

Tsundue was born in northern India and is the author of the essay “My kind of exile”, which won a literary prize in India. He also wrote a book of poems Crossing the Border. He is currently working on a series of biographies of Tibetans in exile.