Delhi police have been criticized for their use of force after a video showed them beating student protestors with sticks. Students have been protesting the suicide of a Dalit student who they claim was bullied to death.
Delhi police said Monday they are investigating accusations that officers brutally attacked a peaceful student demonstration held January 30 in the Indian capital.
The video went viral on social media, triggering sharp reactions. Two journalists who have alleged that they were beaten up while covering the protest claimed that the police action was unnecessary.
In the footage, students can be seen screaming and fleeting as stick-wielding officers give chase. Some grab protesters by the hair and pin them to the ground with male officers attacking apparently unarmed female students.
"There was no provocation from the side of the protesters," Vikas Kumar, a news photographer who covered the protest told the Catch News website. "It was a small group, non-violent and unarmed. The police could have easily managed such a small crowd without using brute force."
Saturday's demonstration was held outside the offices of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the nationalist Hindu organization that's the parent of India's ruling BJP political party.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal - a political rival of the BJP - has accused the city's police on Monday of terrorizing protesters.
Demonstrations have been going on for weeks on campuses in India over the January 17 hanging death of Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad.
Many students allege the 26-year-old graduate student was driven to suicide after being banned from university facilities following a dispute with politically connected Hindu nationalist students who claimed they had been assaulted by Vemula.
Vemula was a member of the Dalit caste - once known as the lowest "untouchable" caste. Dalits have long claimed harassment and discrimination in India.
Since the death of Vemula, scuffles have been common between police and students calling for the sacking of university officials they accuse of being responsible for Param's death.
Following the outcry from the latest violence - which has aired on television channels across India - Delhi police officials vowed to hold an inquiry.
"We have ordered an inquiry into the incident and are analyzing the video," police spokesman Rajan Bhagat told the AFP news agency,
jar/ng (AFP, PTI)