Violence erupts in India

NEW DELHI — Violence has erupted in several parts of north and central India as thousands of dalits, members of Hinduism’s lowest caste, protest an order from the country’s top court that they say dilutes legal safeguards put in place for their marginalized community.

Caste prejudice is endemic in Hindu-majority India, even though the constitution outlaws the practice and has made it a crime punishable by up to a year in prison. Last month the Supreme Court ruled that in order to prevent misuse of the law, government officers accused of flouting it can only be arrested after their supervisors sign off on an inquiry.

Dalit groups say the law is already poorly enforced with abysmally low conviction rates and the top court’s order dilutes it further.