One election strategy in India’s most populous state—make Muslims and Hindus hate each other for votes

Muzaffarnagar, a western district in the massive Indian state of Uttar Pradesh that went to the polls on Apr. 10, is an excellent example of one of the ugliest truths of the world’s largest democracy—politicians regularly exploit religion to divide the electorate and win votes.

In Sep. 2013, religion-based violence, allegedly encouraged by local politicians, erupted in the villages of Muzaffarnagar and its neighboring district of Shamli between Jats, a Hindu caste that includes many owners of large sugarcane fields, and Muslims, who are predominantly laborers, carpenters and traders. More than 60 people were killed and tens of thousands of Muslims were displaced.

Since then, politicians have relied on the communal riot to worsen the divide and gain votes. India’s population is 80% Hindu, but the country was founded on the principal of secularism, and the constitution guarantees all the freedom to practice the religion of their choice. Still, clashes between religious groups, particularly Hindus and Muslims, spring up with alarming frequency, despite the fact that individuals from these communities often live side-by-side for generations.

Here’s how politicians continue to stoke the fires of dissent in Uttar Pradesh…read it at Quartz

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