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India’s SC questions whether Muslims in held Kashmir are a minority

The Supreme Court of India on Monday questioned whether the Muslims living in India-held Kashmir can be treated as a minority group and asked the central government to reconsider the use of pellet guns to quell protests in the region, Indian media reported.

A three-member bench of the Indian apex court asked the governments of India and held Kashmir to discuss whether Muslims living there can be considered a minority group, Times of India reported.

The court instructed the government to submit a report on the matter before the bench within a month, the Indian daily reported.

“This is a very very important issue. You both sit together and take a stand on it,” TOI quoted the the bench as saying.

The Indian government was also instructed to find alternatives to the use of pellet guns to quell protests in IHK, the Indian Express reported.

Hundreds of civilians in held Kashmir have sustained serious eye injuries as Indian troops stationed in region have employed metal pellets fired from pump-action shotguns to suppress uprisings in the area.

The pellet guns are meant to minimise fatalities in protests although the law gives the armed forces a relatively free hand to use lethal force, especially against suspected militants.

But although they rarely result in deaths, the birdshot from the pellets can often blind victims if the fragments hit them in the eye.

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