GAUHATI, India -- Police arrested dozens of people and enforced curfew on Thursday in several districts in India's northeastern Assam state where thousands protested legislation granting citizenship to non-Muslims who migrated from neighboring countries.
Groups of protesters defied the curfew in Gauhati, the state capital, on Thursday morning and burned tires before police dispersed them.
Army soldiers drove and marched though the streets to reinforce police in the violence-hit districts of Gauhati, Dibrugarh and others, said state police chief Bhaskar Mahanta.
Protesters oppose the legislation, approved by Parliament on Wednesday, out of concern that migrants will move to the border region and dilute the culture and political sway of indigenous tribal people.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed for peace and in a tweet said “I want to assure them — no one can take away your rights, unique identity and beautiful culture. It will continue to flourish and grow.”
The Press Trust of India news agency said the protesters uprooted telephone poles, burned several buses and other vehicles and also attacked homes of officials from the governing Hindu nationalist party and regional group Assam Gana Parishad.
Police used batons and tear gas to disperse protesters in 10 out of the state's 33 districts.