India politician arrested for 'assaulting' horse

The horse being attacked
Image caption Shaktiman, the white police horse, is being treated by veterinary officers

An Indian legislator from the ruling BJP party has been arrested for "assaulting" a police horse, forcing vets to amputate its leg.

Ganesh Joshi, a legislator from the northern state of Uttarakhand, allegedly beat the animal with a stick.

Veterinarians told reporters they had no choice but to amputate as gangrene was spreading in the animal's body.

Police told the BBC they were searching for others involved in beating the horse, named Shaktiman.

Mr Joshi denies assaulting the animal.

Image caption The horse has been fitted with a false leg

"The footage which the electronic media is showing by linking with an old clip - in which I am lifting a stick in front of the horse - has no connection at all [to the incident]," Mr Joshi told the BBC.

"The horse fell down when someone pulled its saddle and the animal sustained a fracture on its leg," he added.

Mr Joshi's arrest on Friday sparked protests in the state.

The incident took place near the legislative assembly in the state capital, Dehradun, on Monday when the BJP was holding a protest against the Congress party-led state government.

An earlier surgery was believed to have saved the leg, but rapid infection necessitated the amputation, vets said.

The Uttarakhand state government has vowed to give Shaktiman the "best possible treatment".

The incident caused outrage in India with many taking to social media to express their anger.

On Twitter, the hashtag #IsHorseAntiNational - prompted by a tongue in cheek newspaper headline that read, "BJP MLA beats up a horse. No confirmation whether the horse was anti-national" - was trending for most of Tuesday.

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