efe-epaAmritsar, India

Hundreds of protesters on Monday blocked a main bridge in the center of Amritsar, in the northwest Indian state of Punjab, as thousands more joined a nationwide strike called by several organisations representing the low-caste Dalits, or "untouchables".

Around 400 strikers set up roadblocks at Bhandari Bridge, a main crossing point connecting the north and south of Amritsar, cutting off business and shopping districts in the old city, an epa journalist reports.

Up to 500 security officers were on duty during the strike action, and although the crowd shouted anti-government slogans and burned an effigy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the protest remained largely peaceful, and no arrests were made.

The state of Punjab reportedly blocked mobile internet services and suspended bus routes during the strike.

The rally was part of a nationwide strike called by Dalit civil groups to protest against the Supreme Court's alleged "dilution" of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (SCs/STs) (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Dalit activists say the Supreme Court's Mar. 20 ruling, which removed certain provisions protecting members of India's lowest castes from harassment, will lead to an increase in violence against the Dalits.

The protest is the latest in a series of incidents, which have highlighted the ongoing plight faced by members of India's lowest castes.

In Jan. 2018, Dalits commemorating a historic battle were attacked by members of hardline Hindu groups.

An inquiry set up to investigate the incident found that while the police had prior knowledge of the attack, they did nothing to protect the Dalits from the assault, leading to large scale violent protests all across the country.