A 600-year-old mosque was destroyed by government authorities for alleged “illegal encroachment” in Delhi. Aishwarya Iyer/CNN

By Aishwarya S Iyer and 

New DelhiCNN — 

The demolition of two mosques in India within days of each other has highlighted the deep religious divide in the country, months before voters head to the polls for a nationwide election that is expected to hand Prime Minister Narendra Modi a rare third term in power.

The twin demolitions in Uttarakhand state and Delhi came just weeks after Modi inaugurated the controversial Ram Mandir, a temple built on the foundations of a centuries-old mosque that was torn down by hardline Hindu crowds in the early 1990s.

That ceremony marked a seismic shift away from modern India’s secular founding principles and was hailed by Hindu nationalists as a crowning moment in their decades-long campaign to reshape the nation.

Deadly violence erupted in Uttarakhand’s Haldwani city last week, after government officials, accompanied by police, razed a mosque and madrassa (an Islamic school), citing “illegal encroachment.”

But advocates working on behalf of the Muslim community point to court documents, seen by CNN, that show no such order had been given.

The demolitions drew incensed residents onto the streets and at least six people have been killed in clashes with police. Authorities have imposed curfews, but scared Muslim families told CNN they just want to leave. About a third of Haldwani’s 220,000 people are Muslim, according to the most recent census from 2011.

This story was originally published in cnn.com. Read the full story here.