By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 9, 2013
NEW DELHI — It began in the smallest of ways, when a teenage Hindu girl complained to her family that she'd been verbally harassed by a Muslim boy.
The girl's brother and cousin allegedly responded by going to the teenage boy's home and shooting him to death. Reacting to that, members of his family and others in the Muslim community allegedly beat to death the brother and cousin.
From that spark in late August, violence in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has escalated, with the death toll reaching 31 on Monday as police locked down the area and the prime minister called for calm.
A curfew has been imposed in the Muzaffarnagar district where the dispute arose, about 13,000 security officers have been deployed and more than 100 people have been arrested on charges of inciting violence. Schools and shops were closed Monday after hundreds of villagers reportedly fled their homes Sunday or were evacuated by police [....]
"It began over a trivial issue and turned into communal violence," said Sharat Pradhan, a Lucknow-based independent political analyst. "This is a common way of settling scores in this part of Uttar Pradesh, which is known as the 'Wild West,' a place where human life is almost meaningless." [....]