Even as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday defended controversial legislation granting citizenship to religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, the opposition and rights groups called it an insult to the country’s secular character.

Modi tried to assuage people in India’s northeastern state of Assam, where violent protests erupted against the bill.

The army has been deployed at four places in the northeastern states. Reports from Guwahati, the provincial capital of Assam, said people defied curfew and clashed with police.

“I want to assure my brothers and sisters of Assam that they have nothing to worry

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