Unions serve ultimatum to CM

As always, the Government usually waits until the last resort. Here after several rounds, the student organizations take up this step. First memorandum was submitted to CS, then to the CM and now serving ultimatum. Hope there would be solution until further actions are carried out.

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Unions serve ultimatum to CM

Source: AP Times, April 7, 2018

ITANAGAR, Apr 6: Claiming that their demand to disallow non-locals from participating in the panchayati raj system has not been met, the All Yobin Students’ Union (AYSU) and the All Arunachal Pradesh Anti Corruption Students’ Union (AAPACSU) on Friday served a 10-day ultimatum to the chief minister to address their demand.

The AYSU in its release stated that no initiative has been taken till date, despite the union having earlier submitted a memorandum to the chief secretary and the chief minister, urging the state government to bar non-APST settlers from the panchayati raj process in Vijoynagar circle of Changlang district.

‘Involving non-local settlers in the panchayati raj system is not permitted anywhere else in the state and is against the panchayat laws,’ the AYSU said. It said the exception being made in Vijoynagar circle ‘should be terminated for the greater good of our state.’

The AAPACSU in its release made the same demand, and called for suspension of the Changlang deputy commissioner and the additional deputy commissioner of Miao subdivision.

Both the unions have threatened to resort to ‘democratic action’ if their demands are not met within the stipulated time.

Orgs seeks removal of non-indigenous settlers

Source: The Dawnlit Post, 6 April 2018

ITANAGAR, Apr 6: Demanding immediate roll back of Panchayati Raj status extended to the retired Assam Rifles personnel presently residing at Vijoynagar circle of Changlang district, the All Arunachal Pradesh Anti-Corruption Students’ Union (AAPACSU) and All Yobin Students’ Union (AYSU) has served a 10-day ultimatum to the state government.

Claiming that non-APSTs have been allowed to cast their votes in the Panchayati Raj elections in Vijoynagar, the AAPACSU had in November last year appealed to the chief secretary to direct the Changlang deputy commissioner to stop it.

In a separate representation submitted to the chief minister’s office on Friday, the unions questioned the government on what provision were the retired army men provided the status. They stated that such biasness has never been witnessed in any part of the state.

‘According to the 73rd Amendment Act, 1992, Panchayati Raj system in India, only the local people of said state/area can represent and cast vote in PR elections. This move of the government is against the Act,’ the unions claimed.

Both AAPACSU and AYSU have threatened to launch a democratic movement, if the government fails to look into their demand by April 13 next.

The AAPACSU on the other hand has also demanded immediate suspension of the Changlang DC and Miao ADC.

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AAPACSU’s Draws Attention of PM for Yobins

The concerns of the Arunachal Pradesh Anti corruption Students Union for the Yobins is expressed again in their representation to the PM. Indeed we are much inflicted. We need more cures and stitches than harms. I never skip a night without please our God to relief from our burdens.

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UNION WRITES TO PM ON PLIGHT OF YOBINS

Source: Eastern Sentinel, 28 March 2018

ITANAGAR, Mar 27:In a representation addressed to Prime Minister, the All Arunachal Pradesh Anti corruption Students Union on Tuesday drew his attention towards the suffering and plight of Yobin Tribe, which has been facing marginalization issues since very long time.

Stating that the future of Yobin tribe is being threatened, it has sought the PM’s intervention in providing them with every needed privilege like proper education, road connectivity, infrastructure development etc at par with other tribes in the state.

Citing historical records, it also requested for solving the long impasse over resettlement of Yobin tribe, who have been forcefully evicted from their ancestral lands by government to make place for settlement of 200 ex-servicemen & retired Army personnel families.

The union who recently toured Vijoynagar, Tirap has alleged that the settlement of the retired Army families were not done as proposed in the land settlement policy that is on “vacant lands”, instead resulted in forceful eviction of people from their ancestral villages.

Adding more woes to their troubles, the union stated the government has allegedly allowed and given rights to retired Army personnel families to engage in Panchayati Raj thereby treating them as alien in their own land. The unions termed the move of the government to allow settlers from outside to partake in local self-government as not only inhuman and unjust act, but gross injustice against the Yobins.

Informing that Vijaynagar circle is totally cut off from the rest of the world due to lack of proper road communication, the union also urged the PM to initiate action for early construction of Miao-Vijaynagar road.

Situated in the southeast periphery of Namdapha under Changlang District, Vijoynagar is the remotest circle in the state, wedged between China-Myanmar borders and homeland to this little-known Lisu (Yobin) tribe. As per the census 2001, there are 13 villages in the circle with a population of 3000 approx.

It is pertinent to mention here that that since after declaring as an administrative headquarters in 1962, the condition of Vijoynagar remains as it was earlier without any road connectivity and progress. Reportedly it takes around seven to ten days to reach Vijoynagar by foot through dense forests.

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Union draws PM’s attention towards marginalized Yobin/Lisu tribes

Source: AP Times, 29 March 2018

ITANAGAR, Mar 27: The All Arunachal Pradesh Anti-Corruption Students’ Union (AAPACSU), in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister of India on Friday last, has drawn his attention towards the problems being faced by the highly marginalized Yobin/Lisu tribes residing in Vijoynagar circle of the state and sought urgent steps from the central government to address their grievances.

The union informed that the Miao to Vijoynagar road is still not motorable and people have to walk miles for getting essential commodities and medical care.

“The Government of India in the 1970s gave importance to road construction and a kutcha road from Miao to Vijoynagar was constructed in 1975. Since then, the road has been completely ignored and is presently in need of maintenance. Despite funding, no progress has been made. The latest funding was in 2011 under PMGSY. Unfortunately, the road is still not motorable,” it informed.

Further, the union claimed that the tribe also faces the problem of encroachment of their ancestral land from settler from outside the state.

“In the 1960s, the government resettled some retired Army personnel and Assam Rifles ex-servicemen and labourers in available vacant land in Arunachal. The government settled those 200 personnel on prescribed conditions. The government reserves the right to alter or change or cancel any term and condition from time to time as decided by the competent authority of the Land Records Department of Arunachal Pradesh, but the state government does not check on these conditions properly hence the settlers are now encroaching the local people’s lands. The complaints by the Yobins to administration are not responded,” it added

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Imagined Homeland

In the past we had visitors and researchers for wildlife, animal lovers. But in recent times we have “human researchers”. One of them is Sharbendu De, who came upto Shidi in January 2016 and then again this year in January. It seems he will be visiting several more times to complete the project “Imagined Homeland” about the Yobin people. The article shared below was published in a reputed journal, The Indian Quarterly, January-February 2018 and is being shared with the author’s knowledge.

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Imagined Homeland

BY SHARBENDU DE

The Lisu tribe of Arunachal Pradesh are refugees in their own land.Sharbendu De documents their lives, marked by incredible hardship and amazing grace

This work is an ongoing project documenting the life of the indigenous Tibeto-Burmese Lisu tribe who live in the dense forests of Arunachal Pradesh along the India-Myanmar border. A community that lives without roads, electricity, hospitals, phone connectivity, emergency evacuation services or schools for their children.

Of the 4,800-odd Indian Lisus (known as Yobin in India), roughly 3,000 live inside the forest and neighbouring areas in Arunachal’s Changlang district. In 1983, the Government of India notified 1,985 sq km area of the contiguous forest as Namdapha National Park and Tiger Reserve, without consulting the Lisus. Overnight, they were declared poachers and encroachers in their own land, triggering decades of evictions, subversion of constitutional rights and systematic marginalisation. They are Indian citizens but almost entirely without rights.

In the late 1970s, a 157-km road was proposed, to connect the nearest town Miao with Vijoynagar, the last Indian village on the IndiaMyanmar border. But, even today, MV Road remains an endless mud and slush track making vehicular commute impossible. The Lisus trek for three to five days, each way, to reach Miao, often getting injured, falling sick, or worse.

Basic supplies, including oil, spices, salt and medicines, have to be transported on head loads by porters. A kilogram of salt priced at Rs 20 elsewhere costs the Lisus between Rs 80 and 150. In the absence of schools, they teach their children. Since the government’s healthcare support is negligible, they have health volunteers from each village to care for their sick.

Refusing to protest or take to arms, the Lisus simply focus on finding solutions. They grow their rice and vegetables, sustainably extract forest produce, build each other’s homes, bury their dead, pray and feast together. In the absence of an external economy they mostly barter, living symbiotically with nature as a self-sufficient community. These gentle people call the forests “home” and consider the idea of life outside the forest as inconceivable. We belong here, they say, quietly.

Gandhigram village, outside Namdapha National Park
People of Gandhigram, Hazolo, Vijoynagar and nearby villages, as well as those living inside the core area of Namdapha, have been waiting for decades for a better life. They continue to wait.

Aguhum village, inside Namdapha National Park
David Yobin, 55, with his youngest son Yuleba and wife Jemana in their kitchen. Given the cold terrain, the Lisus keep a re going virtually at all times. Friends and family huddle around and spend time together. In the left background, a stack of salt packets can be seen. David lugged 50 kg of salt from Miao at one go to last several months, and to avoid paying inflated local prices.

Hazolo village, outside Namdapha National Park
The community organised a farewell lunch at the village church for the priest who had been transferred to another village after three years of service. Every household cooked rice, yam and other items and brought them to the feast. The church paid for the pork.

Namdapha National Park
Chakma porters take a break on their journey carrying rations to the last villages on the India- Myanmar border. Refugees from Bangladesh, these hardy men carry 80-100 kg of rice from Miao to Vijoynagar. It takes these porters 10-14 days to drag the rations on their bicycles through 157 km of dirt track that cuts through Namdapha National Park before reaching villages on the eastern fringes. They are paid a mere Rs 100-120 cartage per kg for their pains.

Aguhum village, inside Namdapha National Park
Brothers Sayuba and Yuleba go exploring in their backyard after school. The village school is run by Christian missionaries who engage teachers from Aguhum village at a monthly salary of Rs 4,000. The school is not affiliated to or recognised by India’s education systems and there are no organic linkages for these children to enrol in other schools once they graduate.

Aguhum village, inside Namdapha National Park Khiabo Yobin, 55, lives with his wife and children deep inside the core area of Namdapha. He had 11 children, but only four survived. He prays regularly in the village church. “The church is a symbol of unity and love for me. I find it the most important place,” he says.

Gandhigram village, outside Namdapha National Park
Phuyohey Yobin, 38, is the first Gram Bura or village chief of Gandhigram, the biggest Lisu settlement outside the Park. Ever since Phuyohey became chief, he’s been wanting to do things for the community, but his hands are tied because of the uncertainty of their residential status. “Without the essentials and a good road how can I bring change to my village? We need a good road even if I’m to transport people’s cardamom from their plantations. Now we have to privately hire trucks and because of the dirt track, they charge us exorbitant amounts.”

Objections for Panchayat Participation of Settlers in Vijoynagar

Here is a voice against one of the injustices prevalent in Vijoynagar Circle with many more to speak out. Last year the request to the administration not to further enroll the Settlers went deaf ears (appeared in AP Times, “Stop enrolment of non-APST in PR system”). Following are news releases of the same matter in three Arunachal dailies. The article appeared in front page of Dawnlit Post.

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‘Disallow participation of non-locals in Panchayati Raj system’

Source: AP Times, 21 March 2018

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ITANAGAR, Mar 20: Claiming that retired non-local Assam Rifles’ personnel have been allowed to participate in the Panchayati Raj Institution in Vijoynagar circle under Changlang district, the All Yobin Students’ Union (AYSU) has appealed to the state government to disallow their participation in the Panchayati Raj system.

In a representation to the chief minister on Tuesday, the AYSU has stated that permitting non-local settlers to engage in the local self-government is unfair to the locals and goes against the spirit and intention of the panchayat laws.

The union claimed that after its creation as an administrative headquarters in 1962, the Vijoynagar circle witnessed forced settlement of 200 retired army personnel and families in the already Yobin inhabited villages.

“Our Yobin tribe has already been facing a lot of marginalization issues. The circle is without roads. We suffer from multiple problems and now our community is forced to “compete” with a group of settlers in the panchayat system,” the union added.

It has further appealed to the state government to fulfill its promise to ensure early rectification of its earlier notification as per which the Scheduled Tribe status to the Yobin tribe was cancelled.

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UNION SEEKS CORRECTION OF SETTLEMENT POLICY

Source: Eastern Sentinel, 21 March 2018

ITANAGAR, Mar 21: Claiming that state government under its land settlement policy has allegedly permitted retired non-local Assam Rifles’ personnel to participate in the Panchayati Raj Institution in Vijoynagar circle under Changlang district, the All Yobin Students’ Union (AYSU) on Wednesday has appealed Chief Minister to correct the error in the policy and disallow their participation.

Asserting that Panchayati Raj system was introduced basically for empowerment of local populace, however AYSU has stated that allowing non-locals to engage in the local self-government is not only unfair against locals of the area, but also goes against the spirit and intention of the panchayat laws.

Claiming that the Yobin tribe have been facing a lot of marginalization issues till today, it alleged that since after declaring as an administrative headquarters in 1962, the condition of Vijoynagar remains as it was earlier without any road connectivity and progress.

“Our people are already suffering from multiple problems and on top of it the government allegedly allowed 200 retired army personnel and families to settle in our villages which resulted in forceful eviction of our people from their ancestral lands,” it added.

It also alleged that government policy on land settlement under its 4th plan intended to resettle some retired army personnel and Assam rifles ex-serviceman in available vacant land in the state. However the union claimed that settlement procedure did not take place as per the plan and instead locals were evicted from their ancestral villages to make place for settlers from outside.

Also referring to government order dated February 6 2015 in which Yobin were given ST status, but allegedly withdrawn after two years, the union while reminding the government of its promise to rectify their decision has stated that one year has passed and no action has been taken in this regard.

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Yobins demand action against ‘settlers’

Source: The Dawnlit Post, 22 March 2018

ITANAGAR, Mar 21: Members of the Yobin community, who once officially held Scheduled Tribe status, are demanding that retired Indian security personnel and their families who were settled by the central government earlier should not be permitted to participate in the Panchayat Raj Institutes.

Yobins, better known as Lisus in China and Myanmar where a large number of their community members have originally resided for centuries, were first given official recognition as Arunachal Pradesh STs in 1979 but was revoked. Years later, in 2015, the state government under then-chief minister Nabam Tuki had issued a notification once again giving them APST recognition. However, just days later the Centre’s ministry of tribal affairs wrote to the chief secretary stating that the state government’s notification violated Article 342 (2) of the Constitution which states that such notifications should not be in contravention to Part XVII Official Language Chapter I Language of the Union.

Now, the Yobins are demanding that only should their APST status be restored but also that settlers from outside the state should not be allowed to contest in panchayat elections.

The All Yobin Students’ Union (AYSU) today wrote to the chief minister stating that a few years after the establishment of Vijoynagar circle in Changlang district in 1962, the Centre had “forced” the settlement of 200 retired Assam Rifles personnel and families in “Yobin-inhabited villages”.

It said that the “settlement did not take place in vacant lands” and that the Centre’s plan “removed the Yobins from their ancestral villages”.

The AYSU said that the idea of “settlers permitted to live for a limited period are allowed to engage in local self-government” is a “very strange application” and one that “goes against the spirit and intention of the panchayat laws”. It said that the participation of the ‘settlers’ and their families in panchayat election is an injustice and illegal.

Stating that the Yobin already face several problems such as lack of road communication in the 11 villages that they primarily reside, the union said that the government should “lighten our load” as the community is “forced to compete with a group of settlers”.

It also appealed to the state government to rectify the 2015 notification so that they are once-again recognised as APSTs.

Currently, ST certificates are not issued to members of the community.

Union against temporary settlers participating in Arunachal Panchayat

A day after the AYSU raised its voice against the Settlers’ Panchayat participation, the AAPACSU supported our issues.

Source: AP Times, 22 March 2018

NBWL nod for 2-lane Namchik-Vijaynagar survey

Very strange to see how the government of our state plans road projects. As the news title suggests a humor. The road specifications are more or less the same except for the two lane outside the “declared” National Park. AP Times, 18 Jan 2018.

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NBWL nod for 2-lane Namchik-Vijaynagar survey

Two road projects for same destination

[ Tongam Rina ]

ITANAGAR, Jan 17: The standing committee on National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has granted approval for survey and investigation of the 2-lane Namchik-Vijaynagar road which falls under the Namdapha Tiger Reserve, but with conditions.

While granting its permission on 9 January, 2018, the Board said that the single lane CC road will improve accessibility for the park authority to monitor illegal activities within the Tiger Reserve.

It said that the implementing agency “may be allowed to construct single-lane CC road from M’pen gate to Tilo Hka near Gandhigram.”

The Board further took note of the expanding population and land-based economic activities (mostly cultivation of large cardamom), which it said was affecting the biodiversity of the national park.

Four Yobbin villages of Hisichu, Niboti, Ngwazakha and Nisadhi fall under the park.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority, according to the Board, has also recommended the road proposal with the condition that the road falling within the Tiger Reserve will be maintained as fair weather, non-tarred CC road, not exceeding 3 metre in width and that the survey and investigation shall be done in consultation with the Field Director of the Namdapha Tiger Reserve.

With the forest clearance, the survey and investigation will soon resume. But according to sources, Vijayanagar has two road projects for the same stretch of road.

One is under the Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) where the construction is underway, while the other is under the Special Accelerated Road Development Programme.

Then Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh had laid the foundation stone in February 2013 for the 157 km Miao-Vijaynagar road project, which was touted as the longest road in the country under the PMGSY with estimated 25 bridges. The target for completion of the PMGSY was four years from 2013.

Interestingly, prior forest clearance was not sought even though 100 km of the total road was inside the park. The ministry had proposed that the stretch falling under the park will be gravel-no tar road, while the remaining portion would be concrete.

The 157 KM stretch is divided into four segments Miao-M’pen (10 KM), M’pen-Gandhigram(115 KM), Gandhigram-Ramnagar (19 km) and Ramnagar-Vijaynagar(13 KM). Each segment falls under different contractors. Two of the firms have close links with two sitting cabinet ministers of the state.

According to departmental sources, only about 25 kilometres have been completed under the first and second phases of the PMGSY as the construction work was halted from 2015-2017 due to litigation on lack of forest clearance.

Another 28 KM is expected to be completed within this March, as per departmental sources.

On the other hand, according to documents available, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highway (MoRT&H) decided to implement the 2-lane Vijaynagar-Miao-Namchik road with a total length of 174km under SARDP-NE Phase ‘B’ on EPC mode.

“The project road from Namchik to Vijaynagar connects Vijaynagar at Myanmar border with other parts of Arunachal Pradesh, especially with NH 153 through SH-25. The existing road has a general intermediate lane carriageway from Namchik-Miao and from Miao to M’pen the carriageway width is single lane. From M’pen to Gandhigram around 120km is only accessible by foot road through the Namdapha National park. From Gandhigram to Vijaynagar, earthen road of single lane exists”.

The MoRTH stated that it has entrusted two consultancy services, including one from the US for the work of carrying out Feasibility Study and Preparation of Detailed Project Report for upgrading the two lanning of Vijaynagar-Miao-Namchik road. The effective date of start of Consultancy Services was noted as 15 January, 2016.

Even as the two road projects take off simultaneously, more or less on the same stretch of the road, people of Vijaynagar circle have been without roads almost entirely for decades now.

The Miao-Vijaynagar road built by the PWD was inaugurated in 1974 but few years later, the department abandoned the road for want of funds, isolating the entire Vijaynagar circle, which continues even today.

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Population growth of three tribes of Changlang District

The Gazetteer of India on Arunachal Pradesh: Tirap District is very important legal publication by State Government published in 1980. Since this book was published, Tirap District bifurcated to Tirap and Changlang Districts. The two Sub-Divisions namely Changlang and Miao joined to form the current Changlang District.

The Gazetteer mentioned that Changlang Sub-Division had Tangsa and Noctes as the bulk of the population. And Tangsa, Singpho and Yobin inhabited the Miao Sub-Division (Page 2). I got interested to compare how the population had been growing among the Tangsa, Singpho and Yobin as they live closer here in Miao Sub-Division.

Year of Census Tangsa Singpho Yobin
Census 1971 13,448 1,168 926
Census 1981 971
Census 1991 19,751 3,575
Census 2001 29,538 4,539 2,105
Census 2011 36,120 5,616 2,994

A note from the population record between the Census 1971 to Census 2011

· The Tangsa grew almost three times.

· The Singpho rose to five times.

· Yobins to three times of its population in 1971.

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Back from Social Marginalization

The Yobin suffered social exclusion or marginalization so much since 1961 that every step the tribe takes is an attempt to reverse what was intentionally created to “kill” the community. What do we need? We need empowerment – reestablishing our identities, reclaiming our traditional land, connectivity, basically bringing our people to the mainstream of the State. Following are specific areas that came to mind.

1. DECLARATION OF TSOWOPAI ON 6 FEBRUARY AS GAZETTED YOBIN’S FESTIVAL. All the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh have such recognized days. Just to mention from the tribes of Changlang District – Moh-Mol for Tangsa and Shapwang Yaung Manawpoi for Singpho. Even in our district, Yobins is the only tribe not given this privilege. List the list of Local Holidays. Bugun tribe with a population of about 1500 received their place in 2013.

2. RECOGNITION OF ALL YOBIN INHABITED VILLAGES: The Yobin villages such as Meludi, Sichoto, Yacheley, Yacheyzolo, Josadi, Nibodi, Ngwazakha, Aguchi and Nagodi are still unrecognized by the government. Our efforts should be to make sure all these are on the list of Government.

3. CHALLENGE ILLEGAL SETTLEMENT, ILLEGAL PANCHAYAT RAJ AND ILLEGAL TRADE LICENSE ISSUED TO SETTLERS OF VIJOYNAGAR: According to the 4th Plan, the Government of India budgeted Rs 1.80 crores to settled Retired Army personnel and Assam Rifles in VACANT LANDS in Arunachal (Arunachal Panorama, Page 225). We know it was not vacant land where they were settled. First step itself was illegal. And then the Panchayati Raj participation extended to Settlers was wrong because the Arunachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj Act 1997 was meant for local people. Settlers are not local people. And then rampant issuance of trade licenses to Settlers outside their settlement is illegal. They are entitled only within their allotted lands.

4. MORE ON GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Our people have least employment in State Government services. A person stated it would be less than 1%. Those employed are in the lowest ranks. Our people must rise to some of the top offices in the State. Otherwise, we will have unending nightmares.

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11 communities to fight against inclusion of Changlang district

Very strange to read that Yobins also were present at the meeting but then the name of Vijoynagar Circle did not show up. The news release at the Assam Sentinel (4 Dec 2017).

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BORDUMSA, Dec 4: While Assam has been relentlessly fighting tooth and nail against the inclusion of a portion of Assam in the proposed Greater Nagalim, Bordumsa in Changlang District of the neighbouring State of Arunachal Pradesh too has been gearing up to protest against the decision of the Central Government in implementation of Article 371(A).

In a meeting, on Monday, at the auditorium of the Singpho Heritage Centre in Bordumsa, various tribes including the Singphos, Khamtis, Ahoms, Deoris, Chakmas, Hazong, Sonowal Kacharis, Yobins, Adivasis and Gorkhas unanimously resolved to unitedly resist the Centre’s move to implement Article 371(A) in the non-Naga inhabited areas of the district.

Meanwhile, pointing a finger at the role of the BJP-led Government in Arunachal Pradesh, the protestors terming it a "mute spectator" for not initiating steps to intervene to this effect. The meeting resolved to form a committee to spearhead the movement resisting the implementation of the mentioned Article of the Indian Constitution in Changlang District.

Demanding to make public the ‘Naga Framework Agreement’ between the GOI and the NSCN (IM) public, the public meeting also decided to send representation to the State and Central Government apprising it of the "true demography, culture, tradition and geography of the Changlang District inhabited by the non-Nagas.

The speakers hailing from various locations including Miao, Bordumsa, and Diyun among others vehemently lambasted the Centre and the Arunachal Government’s move for implementation of the Naga Accord without disclosing the ‘framework’ as yet, and pointed out that it would severely dismantle the peace and stability of Changlang District. The organisations expressed surprise as to how such a decision could be taken unilaterally and without taking into consideration the ethnicity, culture, tradition and geography of the affected area.

Presiding over the meeting convened at the initiative of Jowkhong Singpho, ZPC Changlang, along with the others former Minister of Arunachal Pradesh CC Singpho remarked: "We would rather shed our blood than to extend our meek submission to the Article 371(A) ceding our territory to the Nagas’.

Among the speakers were State Secretary BJP Mayong Maio, Bordumsa ZPM Tongko Singpho, Romesh Gogoi of the Yuba Morcha, Lititso Yobin, Mukut Deori, Chaw Pingyak Singpho and Chairman of the Bordumsa Anchal Samity Sindu Nong Singpho.

The legal footing of the Yobin tribe

A day after the AP Times published “ST certificates to Yobins halted as govt violates constitutional norm”, a clarification was made in detail by A. Ngwazah. This post in the Readers’ Forum is a treasure and a confidence builder to all of us that we are on right course. All legal requirements are complete.

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Dear Editor,
The Yobin tribe of Arunachal is the least known tribe of the State. And this is largely due to geographical isolation. In fact, the abode of Yobin race is surrounded by Myanmar on three sides. The area remained unknown to the rest of India until the Chaukan Pass Expedition called OP Srijitga carried out in 1961 by the 7th Assam Rifles.
According to the District Research Officer D. Yupang, “The Yobin are the little-known-tribe. They are of the Mongoloid race and of the Tibeto-Burman Language group…”.
Until the late 1960s, the Yobin tribal men used to be detained by the CRPF at Miao. Local leaders like late P.C. Lah of Miao used to enlighten the military that Yobins were Indians inhabiting deep jungle villages of Dawodi areas now called Vijoynagar
However, even today, the principal villages of Yobin can be accessed by tracking for 4-7 days on foot. Even now, there are some, who misunderstand about the constitutional and legal identity of Yobin Tribe. And sure enough, the tribe suffered much illegal marginalization for decades.
It seems proper, therefore, to illumine about the Constitutional and Legal Standing of the Yobin Tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. Presented below is a gist of the official documents about the tribe:-
The Gazetteer of India/ Arunachal Pradesh/ Tirap Gazetteer enlisted Yobin as “Scheduled Tribe of Tirap” on page no: 44. Again, it illustrated about the ethnographic gist of the tribe from pages 90-92.
The local Administration, the ADC Miao vouches for the tribe thus:- “… the Yobin Tribe of Arunachal Pradesh is an indigenous tribe of the State…”. (NO M/ESTT/PF/TM/2014).
Very recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs clarified about the Yobin thus:- “… in fact, all the indigenous tribal communities of the State are the notified STs in the State making ‘Yobin’ also a notified ST in Arunachal Pradesh…”. ( File no. 28/1/2017-ss (public grievance)75. Dated 27.09.2017. This is absolutely clear.
Again, the ORGI (Office of the Registrar General of India), which is an authority on Scheduled Tribe matters, stated (dated 1-8-2014 )about Yobin Tribe thus:- “The proposed community ‘Yobin’ being an indigenous tribe of the State have the status of a ST. … the proposed tribe is an independent Scheduled Tribe and not a section / subgroup/synonym of any of the 16 STs appeared in the illustrative notified list, this office supports the inclusion of Yobin in the STs list of Arunachal Pradesh after Adi listed at the Sl. No. 16”. Cf: ORGI letter: No. 8/1/2014-ss (Arunachal Pradesh). This is understandable.
Again, the NCST (National Commission for Scheduled Tribe) commented on Yobin Tribe in its 60th Meeting thus: Yobin to avail ST Certificate under “All Tribes…” “…Yobin Tribe were getting ST Certificate as per the interpretation of the words “All Tribes of the Union Territory including:… the State to issue Community Certificates. … No amendment of the Presidential Order is accordingly required given its provisions, which are also not in conflict with the judgment of the Supreme Court”.
The prominent Singpho leadership also authenticated the issue saying that Yobin Tribe is the aboriginal tribe of Dawodi, which is presently known as Vijoynagar, the name given by 7th Assam Rifles after 1961.
The Govt of Arunachal Pradesh upheld Yobin Tribe’s ST status in its letter to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs thus,”… the Presidential Order of 1950 with respect to Scheduled Tribes as amended in 1956 is applicable to Yobins”. And it is this Presidential Order that made Yobin also a notified ST of the State.
It is also true that the issuance of ST Certificates to Yobin Community is halted since March 2017! One might wonder why! And the answer is simple. It was a bureaucratic error. So, the objection was not On the Yobin People, but on the faulty Notification. The ground rule is that no State in India can notify or de-notify any tribe as ST. They can simply issue community certificates as the constitution affords. One of the objection letters that came from MTA clearly states, “… But the people are a Scheduled Tribe”.
Legal consultations on this issue simplifies the mess thus: since Yobin is an indigenous tribe of the State, an executive Order/notification from Chief Minister / Chief Secretary can be issued to the DC Changlang/ ADC, Miao to issue ST Certificates to the members of Yobin Community.
Recently, leaders of Yobin Community has met all the concerned authorities of the Govt of India. The NCST clarified two things: that YOBIN ST does not come under Article 342 as notified by the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, in February 2015. But it comes under the Presidential Order: SC&ST List (Modification) Order 1956. And they assured once again that the Commission has been upholding Yobin Tribe’s ST status. And no State in India can notify or de-notify any tribe as ST. The Sate can simply issue Community Certificates to the members of ST.
Coming back to the State Government, the leaders of Yobin Community has recently approached the Chief Minister, Chief Secretary, DCM, Cabinet Ministers, and others to help rectify Yobin ST mess created by a wrong notification.
Yobin tribe has submitted the Constitutional and Legal basis of Yobin Tribe’s claims. And now the whole tribe is anticipating a positive Amendment to the State’s faulty Extra Ordinary Gazette Notification. The tribe is anxiously waiting for the encouraging assurance by the Chief Minister and local Minister to become a reality without any further delay.
Yours,
Avia Ngwazah,
Gen Secretary,
Yobin Tribe Fundamental Rights Forum

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