A Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Manipur has approached the Supreme Court against a High Court order pertaining to Scheduled Tribe status for the Meitei community, ANI reported.

The petition has been filed by Dinganglung Gangmei, who is also the chairperson of the Hill Area Committee of Manipur Legislative Assembly.

On March 27, the High Court had asked the state government to consider petitions for the majority Meitei community’s demand for inclusion among the Scheduled Tribes and decide on them “expeditiously”.

Violence erupted in the state on May 3 after thousands participated in a protest march organised by the All Tribal Students’ Union of Manipur to oppose the demand of the Meitei community. Till Sunday morning, 58 people died in the violence, including three who died in firing by security forces.

Gangmei, in the petition before the Supreme Court, contended the Meitei community is not a tribe and has never been recognised as such, The Indian Express reported. He said that the High Court made a mistake by concluding that the demand of the Meiteis for inclusion among the Scheduled Tribes had been pending for nearly 10 years.

Gangmei also said that the question of granting Scheduled Tribe status was a political problem and the High Court had no role to play in it.

“By getting into the political area and making a categorical order that the State government is directed to submit a recommendation for the inclusion of the Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe list to the Central government, the High Court ambiguously and in all probability inadvertently gave rise to strong misgivings and worries and tensions among the tribals,” the petition said.

Gangmei contended that merely because the Manipur government had received a representation from the Meiteis, it was not obliged to make a recommendation to the Centre to include them in the Scheduled Tribes list.

His petition sought a stay on the High Court order.

In the wake of the violence, nearly 10,000 soldiers from the Army and the Assam Rifles have been deployed in Manipur. Over 13,000 people have been shifted to safe shelters set up by the Army and the state government. Many others have fled to neighbouring states of Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland.

Nine of the 16 districts of Manipur are under curfew and internet services have been suspended in the state. On Thursday, the state government had issued shoot-at-sight orders in cases where “all forms of persuasion, warning, reasonable force, etc have been exhausted”.

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