NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Cane-swinging police charged at about 80 Tibetans who were marching in India on Thursday to demand freedom for their Chinese-ruled homeland.

Seven demonstrators suffered minor injuries, and all the marchers were detained by police for several hours, protest leader Dolma Choephel said.

The clash occurred as the members of the Tibetan Youth Congress began a 330-mile walk to the capital of New Delhi from the northern Indian town of Dharmsala in Himachal Pradesh state, the base of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

``We have organized similar marches in the past and have never received such treatment,'' said Dolma, the youth congress' joint secretary.

She said the protesters were released only after the Himachal Pradesh transport minister and members of the Tibetan ``Khasag'' _ its parliament-in-exile _ came to the police station and intervened.

``The local Indian authorities had already been informed'' of the march, Dolma told The Associated Press by telephone from Daulatpur, where the group was spending the night in tents after walking 25 miles on the first day of their march.

The activists plan to reach New Delhi by March 10, the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against China's occupation of Tibet, which began in 1951.

During their march, they plan to hand out posters demanding the release of Tulku Tenzin Delek, a monk sentenced to death by a Chinese court in 2002 on charges of participating in a bombing in Tibet.