NEW DELHI (AFP) - Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the city's police on Monday (Feb 1) of terrorising protesters after video footage of them belting university students with sticks at a peaceful demonstration went viral.
Delhi University students staged a protest in the Indian capital last weekend over the death of a young Dalit scholar who committed suicide after he was suspended from a campus in the country's south.
Video of the protest held outside the headquarters of a right-wing Hindu outfit shows police hovering around the placard-waving and chanting students before suddenly beating them with wooden sticks and their fists.
The students are heard screaming and running away as the police chase them, with some grabbing protesters by the hair and pinning them to the ground.
"There was no provocation from the side of the protesters. It was a small group, non-violent and unarmed. The police could have easily managed such a small crowd without using brute force," photographer Vikas Kumar, who covered the protest, said on the Catch News website.
Police have ordered an inquiry into the violence which sparked outrage on social media on Monday (Feb 1), while the video was being played repeatedly on India's TV news channels.
"We have ordered an inquiry into the incident and are analysing the video," police spokesman Rajan Bhagat told AFP.
Mr Kejriwal claimed officers were being manipulated by his arch rival, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules at national level and is in charge of the city's police force.
The protest last Saturday was held outside the offices of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the hardline ideological parent of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP.
"Del pol being used by BJP/RSS as their pvt army to terrorize n teach lesson to anyone opposing BJP/RSS. I strongly condemn attack on students," Mr Kejriwal tweeted.
Protests have been staged in cities throughout India in recent weeks over scholar Rohit Vemula's death, a highly emotional case that some have blamed on caste discrimination.
Mr Vemula, a member of India's lowest Dalit social caste,was among a group suspended by the University of Hyderabad after they were accused of assaulting the head of the BJP's student wing there - a charge they denied.