Members of the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) youth wing, demonstrating at Jantar Mantar to press for Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit's resignation over the Commonwealth Games irregularities, on Tuesday clashed with the police.
Police lobbed teargas shells, used water cannons, and resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the demonstrators. The clashes had their echo in Parliament, and led to adjournment of the Rajya Sabha after BJP members insisted on home minister P Chidambaram's statement on the incidents.
BJP leader Venkaiiah Naidu said many demonstrators were injured and some had to be hospitalised with serious injuries.
A police official said at least 23 police personnel were injured, two of them grievously, in heavy stone pelting by the demonstrators. At least 38 activists of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) were also injured.
He said, "No lathi-charge was ordered."
BJP leader Anurag Thakur, who was spearheading the protest, was detained along with other protesters and released later.
The BJYM activists mounted the demonstration to demand that Dikshit resign after the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) report blamed her for irregularities in the Commonwealth Games preparations.
The scene at Jantar Mantar was chaotic, with protestors climbing over police barricades and running over stationary cars while being chased by police personnel.
Police burst tear gas shells and used water cannons to disperse the demonstrators.
Thakur said police acted against peaceful protesters and cane-charged them.
However, the police had a different version.
"Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha activists became violent on reaching Parliament Street, damaged the stage erected for speeches, climbed onto police barricades and indulged in heavy stone pelting, which resulted in injuries to at least 23 police personnel," a police official said.
"Initially, water cannons were used and later 15 tear gas shells were fired to disperse the crowd," the police officer said. "No lathi-charge was ordered."
The protestors appeared to have turned violent when police stopped them in their attempt to breach the barricades.
"We were walking for three kilometres, from Ramlila Ground to Jantar Mantar, and it was a peaceful march," Thakur told reporters. "Without any provocation, the police used water canons, which led to the agitation."
Vijay Jolly of the BJP said: "There were 30,000 protestors and they were proceeding peacefully, but they were lathi-charged brutally. This must have been on the provocation of some central government ministers."
The incidents brought traffic movement to a halt at various places. While commuters faced a lot of problems, there were traffic snarls on Parliament Street, Ashoka Road, Barakhamba Road, at Connaught Place, near Ramlila Ground and ITO.