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Last Updated: Friday, 6 April 2007, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Muslim minority ruling suspended
Indian Muslims
Muslims comprise 18.5% of the state's population
The High Court in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has suspended a ruling which said Muslims could no longer be treated as a religious minority.

Groups classified as minorities enjoy various privileges.

On Thursday one of the High Court judges ruled that census figures showed that Muslims were no longer a minority in Uttar Pradesh.

The state government appealed. Now two other High Court judges have said the judgement should not be implemented.

Muslims constitute about 18.5% of the population of Uttar Pradesh.

Because they are classified as a minority there, they have right to run community educational centres and enjoy subsidies and financial assistance.

When Judge SN Srivastava gave his ruling ending Muslims' minority status, he said his judgement was based on figures from censuses in 1951 and 2001.

But the state's Advocate General, SM Kazmi, told the BBC that the issue of minority status was not relevant to the case that Judge Srivastava had been dealing with and so he had not been empowered to give out such a ruling.

The issue of minority status is politically a sensitive one as most minority groups in India vote en bloc in elections.

Uttar Pradesh begins elections for its state assembly on Saturday.

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