New Delhi: At least 61 people were injured as the anti-government protest by BJP youth wing activists turned violent here on Tuesday with the protesters hurling stones at the police and trying to march towards Parliament, prompting them to lob teargas shells and use force before detaining Yuva Morcha chief Anurag Thakur and some workers.

The clash erupted between thousands of protesters and police after the Yuva Morcha's march from Ramlila Maidan reached Jantar Mantar this evening leaving at least 61 people injured, including 23 policemen, a press photographer and two women journalists.

Earlier in the day, some BJP activists had dodged the elaborate security apparatus and reached the outer gate of Parliament complex meant for VIPs, raising slogans against Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. Protests are not allowed at this site.

The violence at Jantar Mantar started while Thakur was addressing the gathering. A group of protesters tried to jump the barricades and ran towards Parliament House but were prevented by the police.

However, some of them managed to break the cordon and soon after, the protesters started hurling stones and throwing bottle and sticks at police. Police retaliated by using water cannon and lobbing tear gas shells.

Police brought the situation under control in 30 minutes and later, Thakur and over 20 activists were detained but released after two hours.

"We were holding a peaceful protest. For no reasons police suddenly started using batons at us. Around twenty of our activists were injured," Thakur told reporters after he was released from detention.

However, police refuted his allegations saying the Yuva Morcha activists turned violent despite giving an undertaking in writing that they would maintain peace. "Despite the written undertaking and assurances given by leaders during the meetings held with police, the activists became violent on reaching Parliament Street, damaged the stage erected for speeches, climbed on to the police barricades and indulged in heavy stone pelting," Dharmendra Kumar, Special Commissioner (Law and Order), said.

At least 23 police personnel were injured out of which the condition of three are "grievous", he said claiming that police exercised maximum restraint and tried to persuade them to disperse for about 45 minutes.

However, he said, when heavy stone pelting started, initially water cannons were used and later 15 tear gas shells were fired to disperse the crowd. "No lathi-charge was ordered," Kumar said.

"Around 38 activists of Yuva Morcha have reported at RML Hospital for minor injuries received during the melee at the time of dispersal. Those activists who indulged in violence and stone pelting are being identified from video recordings for subsequent legal action," Kumar said.

A case of rioting and damage to public property has been registered.

Kumar said the activists of Yuva Morcha had sought permission to hold a rally at Ramlila Maidan and thereafter hold a protest march to Parliament Street in the afternoon.

"Permission was granted to them on their written undertaking that they would abide by Supreme Court's and Delhi High Court's directions to maintain peace and obey lawful directions of police," Kumar said.

At Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital where the injured protesters were admitted, there was a steady stream of BJP workers visiting them.

Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, senior party leader Anant Kumar, Shahnawaz Hussain, Venkaiah Naidu, and Delhi BJP chief Vijendra Gupta visited the injured. Speaking to reporters after meeting the injured, Venkaiah Naidu claimed many people were injured in the clash with several of them getting leg fractures.

"Even inside Parliament Street police station, our cadres were beaten up. What is happening here? Is this the way you treat the youth of this country?" BJYM chief Anurag Thakur asked.

The activists had marched from Ramlila to Parliament as part of their "Parliament Gherao" against government's alleged inaction in handling corruption.

At Ramlila Maidan senior BJP leaders L K Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitly addressed the gathering.

Police said three CISF personnel suffered serious injuries. One Head Constable suffered injuries on his nose while another lost three teeth. Yet another constable had five stitches on his head.

(Agencies)