Lisu shops at Miao

It is now about 15 years our people began to settle in Miao. Several people have taken interest to run business to support their families.

Two days ago in preparation for a meeting on the 11 July 2015, I counted the number of shops run by the Lisu here. I counted 20 shops.

But almost all our people did similar business. Sixteenth out of the 20 shops sell cloths and related items. Mostly the items are “Dimapur” goods. The other four shops have books, wine, provision and mini-restaurant.

We need to explore other options. I thought of atleast two.

One, a Lisu traditional shop. A shop where we can get traditional cross-bows, basket, dao handle, salah cloth, bags etc. We need it to be handy whenever there are needs for our use or for anyone who would like to purchase our traditional materials as souvenir.

Two, a Lisu restaurant. This should have all traditional foods available. I can think of smoked pork, tsengo, thajhiphele (dried persimmons), hwapi . The idea is to have people taste our foods and also for us to take whenever we miss them.

Perhaps more than this we need a professional business person to help our people move well in modern businesses.

Notes on status of ST certificate

This week I had to visit the ADC office several times for a couple of office works – for birth certificate and ST certificate. On 23 June, a total of 445 applications for obtaining ST certificates were submitted to the office. Out of that 141 applicants were issued the certificates. Khiyosa Ngwazah received the first certificate, No. 1!

On the 5th May, the first 12 certificates were issued in a simple ceremony at the ADC office.

The initial benefits are becoming available for us. For this academic year, students are receiving books at concession rates. My sister who has just joined class xii paid only Rs 190 for her books, otherwise she will need to pay about Rs 700. Another student joined a school and received highly subsidized school fees.

More benefits are to follow: The government workers are getting ready to claim promotions. Young people are looking forward for better jobs. Elder people for other benefits.

I look forward for a day when almost everyone will have multiple livelihood options and availability.

Realised ST on ground

Beginning of January this year, data collection of Family Dossier carried out extensively in all of the Lisu inhabited villages. The Panchayat leaders shouldered this responsibility. The following next two months spent on keying in of those data and formatting, and then finally submitted to the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Miao towards the end of March. Total compiled members were almost 4,000.

The Governor of AP notified Yobin as ST on the 6th February 2015. It came into force after publishing by The Arunachal Pradesh Gazette (Extraordinary) on the 31 March 2015.

This happy news cannot be kept. So three of our ST committee – Avia, Tifu and Stephen – went to all our villages to share this news, taking a copy of the gazettee, from 13 to 25 April. A mega meeting was also held at Shidi to discuss what’s next.

By then several applied for ST certificates, but slightly delayed. The administration had to prepare separate forms and certificate for us. (for other communities, already “Miao” had been imprinted on the certificate).

And on 5 May (incident the very day the Srijitga Expedition reached Shidi in 1961!) the ADC called for meeting at his office. Public leaders both from Tangsa and Singpho gathered. Also the K. Mossang (Minister), FD, police officers, media persons). Certificates to the first 12 people were issued.

A big celebration is coming up in November at Shidi. Dignitaries from AP Government will be chief guests. Now preparations are on progress.

This is just beginning of ST journey after 37 years of struggle. We are yet to see how this privilege will benefit our people, our locality.

In the Shadow of the State

A well organized story of the Lisu in the Shidi valley. The author chronicles our beginning in India, tells struggles we faced, and also what’s happening right now. Perhaps, Max Bearak is one of the few journalists who have ventured to our area on foot. Good to see some of the photos of the places where I haven’t been there myself a couple of years.

Source: www:roadsandkingdoms.com/2015/in-the-shadow-of-the-state (Accessed: 20 April 2015).

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IN THE SHADOW OF THE STATE

By Max Bearak

The valley of the Shidi River occupies the easternmost wrinkle in India’s scrunched-up forehead, the Himalayan range. Thick jungle covers slopes that rise from its banks, and around its headwaters, to ridgelines that delineate the border with Myanmar. Fenced in to the north, east, and south by those geographical and political boundaries, the river rushes west, aimed at the vast drainage of the Brahmaputra basin. If borders were visible from the air, the Shidi Valley would appear like a dark green finger, jutting out of northeastern India and pointing at Myanmar.

When dozens of families fleeing unrest and famine in Myanmar macheted their way into this valley in the 1950s, both India and what was then called Burma had already become independent states, but the border between the two had yet to be drawn. These migrants, belonging to the Lisu tribe (later given the exonym Yobin in India) found only the scattered, stateless settlements of Lisu forerunners who had arrived just a few years earlier. Before those initial incomers, and stretching back through time immemorial, the valley had only hosted temporary visitors: hunters; purveyors of jhum, an age-old slash-and-burn cultivation that shifts from year to year; and the occasional itinerant priest or monk. No records exist of any visit by a British, Indian, or Burmese representative of a state.

But in 1961, 14 years after India’s independence, the Indian army did finally reconnoiter the valley, and nine years after that, India and Burma agreed to define their border, if only with lonely stone pillars placed hundreds of miles apart. For those Lisus who happened to live within India’s new valley, their “discovery” and subsequent envelopment into India marks the beginning of a perhaps inevitable tryst that even the most remotely situated peoples must have with statehood.

The valley is home to what are probably the most remote villages in India

The first time I heard of the Shidi valley, albeit indirectly, was from a wizened old man in another valley, the Dibang, also in Arunachal Pradesh, a boomerang-shaped Indian state that abuts Tibet and northern Myanmar. The Dibang is remote, but unlike the Shidi, it has a road, electricity, and intermittent cell phone reception. As his grandson admired my friend’s camera, he put his hand on my shoulder and asked me a question with a sly look on his face.

“This boy keeps dreaming about what happens in Guwahati,” he said in Hindi, referring to northeast India’s biggest city, a smoke-choked urban nightmare a dozen hours’ drive from where we sat. “But no doubt people in Guwahati watch Delhi and Bombay on TV and dream about life in those cities, and then those city people must also be thinking about how it is in your country. And now you, here, came to find what?”

My response might have been incoherent because of my middling Hindi skills, but more likely because I’m not exactly sure what force attracts me to remote places, to seeking knowledge in the nooks and crannies of relative statelessness, to idealizing the isolated, the supposedly wild and natural, the flipside of my suburban upbringing. When I managed to mutter something like, “Cities are very polluted, and I don’t like how concrete looks, so I try to go far away,” the old man gestured vaguely at the layers of green, pyramidal peaks vanishing towards the east in the midday haze and said, “Then you should go there.”

Weeks later, on Google Maps, I determined that “there” was, unofficially, the Shidi valley.

The valley is home to what are probably the most remote villages in India, if we measure remoteness by distance from a motorable road. Upwards of 5,000 people live the better part of a week’s walk from the nearest road in Miao, where the river meets the plains. To reach the most distant villages, one must follow muddy footpaths that cross jungle-darkened hills and vanish along slippery creek beds, then along the rock-and-driftwood-strewn banks of the Shidi River—and further, traversing its tributaries on handmade bamboo bridges for almost 100 miles.

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Reaching the valley’s most distant villages requires crossing through the waist-high Shidi River half-a-dozen times. Photo by: Max Bearak

As I walked up the valley, I asked the older Lisus to tell me how their lives changed when they suddenly became Indian. What I heard was a particularly sub-continental catalogue of promises and pitfalls, in this land where democracy and affirmative action for Lisus and other minorities are enshrined, yet simultaneously, remoteness is often a pretense for impunity and neglect. And while the Lisus I met on the way to the valley’s end seemed healthy, content, and at least mildly keen on being Indian citizens, their histories of the valley seemed to err decidedly on the pitfall side, with promise only recently becoming apparent, more than five decades after the Indian tricolor was first planted along the banks of the river.

The river flows through one of earth’s eighteen “biodiversity hotspots,” according to UNESCO, and the virgin jungles that enclose it host 600 species of orchid, 400 of fern, India’s only ape, the Hoolock Gibbon, and five species of endangered big cats, to name a few of the undeniable criteria it meets for deserving conservation. Given the region’s miniscule human population, it made for an ideal location to create a national park, and only twenty years after the Indian army first ventured into the valley, Namdapha, India’s second largest national park was christened and opened.

Life was simply arduous

But back when Latchi Yobin was a young woman, and her family and six others made it to the Shidi valley in the early 1950s, the valley wasn’t just more or less empty; it was unknown to the Indian government. Together, the troupe had just escaped a truly fragile existence in northern Burma, where Lisus were essentially unwanted refugees, and traded it for a slightly less fragile one of hunting, foraging, buffalo raising, and gardening in what they saw as a place to make a new beginning, protected by miles and miles of jungles and hills between them and wars and famines in Burma at the time. Still, scarcity of food, tempestuous weather, and a cast of dangerous animals circumscribed life into survival mode here too. Life was simply arduous; besides dangers close at hand, older Lisus remember having to traipse through the jungle for more than fifteen days just to procure essential but unavailable items, primarily salt, from faraway towns.

That secluded existence, reminiscent of how people lived in times before nations, came to an abrupt end in the summer of 1961. Major General A.S. Guraya of the Assam Rifles division of the Indian Army, accompanied by around 30 soldiers, a fleet of porters, and two interpreters from outside the valley, arrived in Latchi’s village and, like the Czar’s men did in Anatevka in Fiddler on the Roof, told her and her kin that they were to be ready to leave their village immediately, or else. Latchi remembers the soldiers shooting several livestock to make sure their seriousness was understood.

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The Assam Rifles army camp in Vijaynagar, the last major village in the valley. Photo by: Max Bearak

In the coming weeks, all the Lisus in the valley were herded at gunpoint towards a village in a wide floodplain that they knew as Shidi, like the river. Once assembled there, they were told, “This place is India, and you are Indians,” Latchi recalled. Through the interpreters, the army men assuaged their fears with pledges of regular rations and road connectivity—promises of dependability given to a population that craved it, but knew little of the possible perils of dependence.

Meanwhile, the Indian government distributed the newly occupied land beyond Shidi to retiring Gurkha regiment soldiers and their families, who had been recruited from Nepal decades earlier by the British colonial army. As if taking a page out of the conquistador’s manual, Guraya then renamed the old Lisu villages Preetnagar, for his daughter Preeti; Ramnagar for his younger son Ram; and finally Vijaynagar, for his eldest. In Hindi, Vijaynagar also means “victory town.” Shidi village was—sincerely, I’m sure—renamed Gandhigram, in honor of India’s pacifist icon who held hallow, above most else, respect for decentralized power and village autonomy.

Adu Yelimi, now pushing 60, remembers that when his family first arrived there, Shidi wasn’t the town it is now, decades of settlement later. “A tiger might come to your field and eat your animals and you’d be scared to go out for many nights afterwards,” he said. “You could hear the elephants out back while you tried to go to sleep.”

But then a “Kheti Babu” came and taught them how to plant rice, said Adu, using his term for a representative from the Department of Agriculture. Rice is easy to grow, and one harvest can provide a family with a year’s sustenance. By cultivating rice, one can in turn cultivate a sedentary, stable lifestyle, living in cleared flood plains with fellow rice growers whose collective presence keeps wildlife at bay.

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A rice mill in Shidi village.Photo by: Max Bearak

Adu, like many older Lisu, remains proficient at hunting and foraging, and he knows all the tricks one must use to test whether a mushroom is poisonous or not. But he remembers the monsoon season, decades ago, when the inherent insecurity of rice dependence was proven with alarming force. Dozens, or perhaps a hundred paddy fields including that of Latchi’s family were swept away by the Shidi River after heavy rains, and with their fields ruined and the fertile land up-valley from Shidi allocated to the Gorkhas, the affected moved downriver, only to soon find themselves boxed in ever further.

By 1978, Latchi’s family had settled in a downriver village called Nibodi. The adults of the village were summoned one day that year to Vijaynagar, a few days’ walk, ostensibly for what she remembers as a census count. While in Vijaynagar, a group of breathless young boys from Nibodi arrived, having sprinted the whole way to bear devastating news: Forestry Department officials had burned the village, with only the children and the elderly there to witness it.

Without the consent of the Lisu, the Indian government had decided to designate the rivers and mountains between Shidi and Miao—almost all of the remaining Lisu land in India, as far as they were concerned—as part of Namdapha National Park. As such, human settlement in those areas was made illegal. Those whose homes in Nibodi were reduced to ashes moved back to the only place that was left for Lisus in the valley—Shidi.

A Lisu couple brings tin up the valley to make longer-lasting roofs. Photo: Max Bearak

Unswayed by threats of violence and arguments for conservation, Latchi’s family moved back to Nibodi only two years after it was burnt, if anything, she said, for pride’s sake. Latchi claims to be 105 years old, but the contours of her memories place her at a more believable 85. When we met, in Nibodi, she told of her accumulated distaste for the Forestry Department officials with increasing vigor, chuckling at what now seems to her like the distant past, but practically spitting as she emphasized certain points. We sat around a fire, and floating pieces of ash were falling into her hair.

“Ten lakhs is nothing for this fertile land,” said Latchi, referring to the amount of money the government is willing to pay to resettle those living in the park on land outside of the valley, about $16,000. “Money is of no use anyhow. My husband is buried here. I will be too.”

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Shooing an errant buffalo away in the morning mist along the Shidi River.Photo by: Max Bearak

Park officials blame the Lisu for cutting too much firewood from the forest, and for widespread poaching that has depleted wildlife. The latest tiger census, done by remote camera sensing, only captured four tigers though there are certainly more that didn’t happen to cross the cameras, said Dusu Shra, the park’s current field director. Most Lisus admit to hunting, but deny poaching animals like elephants and tigers, and without a road upon which cooking gas can be transported, Lisus use wood from the jungle for all heating and cooking. Park officials want the Lisu out.

Few, if any, want the resettlement money, and feel that Namdapha is rightfully Lisu land. At a meeting last November between national forestry officials and Lisu representatives, the additional director general of India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority’s, Rajesh Gopal, gave his tacit agreement to the stalemate when he promised, “Hum aur jabardasti nahi karenge.” We won’t do any more silly business, using a choice Hindi euphemism for forcible evictions.

Thus confined to a few villages near Shidi and illegal settlements in the national park, the Lisu have had to fashion lives that rely on forces beyond their valley, if only because arable land is becoming more and more scarce. Yet, despite the rocky history, everyone I met welcomes the opportunity to incorporate further into Indian markets and government welfare programs. If the alternative is returning to the fragility of living in a jungle that, in the grand scheme of things, they have only just begun to inhabit and understand, then the broken promises of the Indian government are but postponements of a long-awaited inclusion into Mother India’s reputedly caring embrace.

A signpost in Miao, showing distances on a road that though twice-built, has never lasted longer than a month. Photo: Michael Snyder

That caring embrace is visible to Lisus who make the walk down to Miao, or travel further. In that India, everyone seems to have access to schools, hospitals, roads, subsidized rations, and, if they belong to a registered, or “scheduled” tribe, they are reserved quotas for educational and employment opportunities, and can get certificates of ownership for their land. All of which would be beneficial should they actually receive those things—but as those of us who live in the unwieldy yet accessible parts of India witness constantly, being afforded a right scarcely translates to being availed it.

Fifty-four years into their tryst with India this year, the process to bestow scheduled tribe status to Lisus began in February. For decades, other tribes have argued that Lisus are more like refugees, who don’t truly belong to India, and don’t deserve a piece of its affirmative action pie, despite ample evidence that Lisus arrived in the valley before the Indian state even existed. In fact, Lisus were only made citizens by the federal government in 1994, after they were mistakenly left off the legally recognized list of tribes in Arunachal Pradesh in 1979, around the same time the plans for the national park were solidified and Nibodi was burned.

With scheduled tribe status, the Lisu will be able to claim what land they have left outside of the national park as their own. It is perhaps the only reason they can be happy that the promised road has still yet to be built after all these decades—otherwise, scheduled tribes from other valleys could have easily moved in and claimed it themselves.

The government has, for the third time since it drew the valley’s borders with Burma in 1972, commissioned the building of the road. The first two times, it was blocked by landslides or ruined by rains within a month of its opening. The last time it opened was in 2011, and in just 4 years, jungle has reclaimed it to the extent that paths cleared by machete in the jungle are often more efficient to travel on. This time around, the Lisu have submitted an appeal to their state government to give the building contract to the BRO, or Border Roads Organization, run by the military, which has an excellent track record.

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Four years ago, the road opened, and a month later it closed again. The jungle has hungrily devoured most of it since then. Photo by: Max Bearak

But on one stretch of what’s left of the previous road, I ran into a group of sunglass-wearing, pot-bellied men taking selfies who said they had won the tender for that particular stretch. “Someone else has the tender for the rest of it—we are only building from here until 40th mile,” one of them said, refusing to give his name. I asked what company he worked for. “It’s a local company, sir, you wouldn’t know it.”

In Shidi, Phusa Yobin, the 66-year-old president of the Lisu Welfare Committee, said that the company belonged to a relative of a member of Arunachal Pradesh’s state assembly, and that the other two companies that won tenders for the rest of the road were tied to even higher officials in the state government. Without the BRO, Phusa said, he doubts the road will last any longer than the last ones, especially with it being done by separate companies with no vested interest in maintenance.

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In what is likely a futile hue and cry, the Lisus have launched a half-hearted campaign to get the road’s construction put into more capable hands. The Lisu alphabet, which includes backwards and upside-down capital Roman letters, is featured on the signPhoto by: Max Bearak

It seems safe to say that until the BRO steps in, the Lisus, young and old, will continue to walk for days and days to towns more firmly in India’s grasp to secure those things which they believe will improve their lives, and which are light enough to carry on their backs: tin for roofing, metal hooks for fishing, solar-powered lights, medicine, car batteries to power and charge electronics like tiny TVs and transistor radios. As one Lisu woman named Chamahey Ngwazah put it to me, “We’ll still need to do left-right-left all the way there and back.”

I’ll admit it: having escaped the crumble and clog of India’s plains again, I worry that if the Lisu get their wish, and the BRO steps in, trucks brimming with sacks of concrete and instant noodles and cheap cigarettes will trundle up to this utmost remote place. But the desire to finally be connected to India is palpable. At some point beyond the thirtieth mile of walking, I was overtaken by a man doing left-right-left, carrying a satellite dish on his back. It was the same dish I later saw in front of Phusa’s house and a good number of others in the villages. They all were made for Dish TV, an Indian company. And displayed on those strange grey orbs, installed in front of the thatch-and-bamboo homes of people forgotten by the rest of their country, was that company’s pompous Hindi slogan—Ghar aayi zindagi. “The world, brought to your home.”

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Max Bearak is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai. Follow him on twitter @maxbearak.

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New Releases on Yobin ST after its Notification

News Item # 1

The following is an editorial of Arunachal Times of April 01, 2015. There is an error in facts: “Historical records show that they were given ST status in the year 1979.” Actually, the ST status was available until 1979, not given in that year.

Two objections:

1. “Large number of Yobin resides on the other side of border at Myanmar. Government should ensure that no one misuse this noble initiative”. True that our people live across the borders, but we are not alone. Almost every tribe of Arunachal Pradesh has their relatives on the other side of the country.

2. “Also the decision to grant ST status to Yobin might open door for other groups to make similar demand.” It is the duty of the govt to look after communities with genuine. I would rather say we should encourage govt to address people of their genuine needs and meet the need for justice.

Read on…

Long wait ends, Yobin’s accorded ST Status

This is an announcement of liberation for our community. What a relief to have our long pending right restored!

Source: Arunachal Times, 31 March 2015

AAPSU & Yobin Community: The Relationship

I find this article very interesting to see the relationship that our students had with AAPSU over the years. In the 70s, our students participated in fund raising and other activities of students. In the 80s, AAPSU in one of their agendas had Yobin as refugee. But as the story unfolds, the apex student body both from former and current leadership supported in Yobin favour. I heard snippets of them on several occasions. But this is first time, I learned in highly organized format.

– Liahey

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Source: The Eastern Sentinel (20 February 2015)

The same article was slightly edited and published in Arunachal Times (20 February 2015) under the title: Yobins deserve ST status

Yobins deserve ST status

ITANAGAR, Feb 19: Yobin Tribe Fundamental Rights Forum (YTFRF) has expressed strong resentment over the refugee tag/label given on the Yobin community.

Claiming that authorized legal documents of Government of India states ‘Yobin’ as a native tribe of Tirap district since 1940s, the Forum urged All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) and people of the state to stand for the cause of the Yobins.

Referring to Presidential Order published in “Gazette of India, Extra Ordinary, Part II, Section 3, in October, 29, 1956, wherein it is claimed to be stated that “Yobin Tribe avails APST under “SC & ST lists (Modification),” the Forum dismissed any questions or doubts over Yobin’s tribal identity.

While recalling Yobin community’s long association with AAPSU and their contribution since the union’s early days, the Forum in its release informed that former Chief Minister and then AAPSU president Late Jarbom Gamlin had remarked that, “…people of the state should not equate the Yobins with refugees as the former (Yobin) are indigenous inhabitants of Vijaynagar area…”

The Forum also informed that former AAPSU president and MP Takam Sanjoy and present AAPSU president Kamta Lapung too claimed to have publicly acknowledged the tribal identity of the Yobins during their visit to Yobin village of Dawodi/Vijaynagar in mid-March 2013. The Forum also claimed that the Joint-High Power Committee members during their visit upheld Yobin’s cause in a public meeting held at IB compound, Vijaynagar.

It also informed that the Arunachal East MP had written to Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GOI in favour of granting ST status to Yobins.

“… kindly intervene in this long pending demand of Yobin Tribe which is also supported by the Cabinet & other public representatives of the State of Arunachal Pradesh is genuine and well deserving of positive response from Govt. of India….”

“… Records reveal that the Yobins are living in Vijaynagar circle since forties of the last century. They are purely Tribal people of Arunachal Pradesh living in Vijaynagar Circle of Miao Sub-Division in Changlang District. The demand for inclusion of Yobin or Lisu to Scheduled Tribe Status in Arunachal Pradesh is very much genuine and deserve for early reorganization by the Government”, the Forum quoted the Miao ADC. (Ref. “No M/ESTT/PF/TM/14 Dated Miao, the 20th November, 2014”).

In 2000, AAPSU president Nabam Jallow assured the Yobin community that any misunderstanding about the Yobin’s legal standing will be erased from AAPSU agenda, the forum informed in the release.

The Forum also claimed that fellow local tribes, including the Singpho and Tangsa communities too vouched for granting ST status to Yobins.

Tuki for ST status to Lisus

Even before the Arunachal dailies published on granting of ST to Lisu, The Telegraph released our news. The author has brought this from multiple angles. A couple of comments on a few:

· Along with our news, the demand for ST from Assam tribes were added. Perhaps, to highlight the other tribes awaiting ST recognition.

· Our case was analysed in the context of China. I don’t think our government considered those angles. Rather in all their documents, our origins, public support, legal documents were furnished.

· The reservation of AAPSU was highlighted.

==== Liahey

Tuki for ST status to Lisus

– A quest for identity

Nishit Dholabhai

New Delhi, Feb. 16: A decision taken by the Arunachal Pradesh government last week to grant Scheduled Tribe status to the Lisu people is likely to have far-reaching, strategic implications.

Lisus (or Yobin as they are called in Arunachal Pradesh), live in the finger-like territory of India in Changlang district.
The land mass is surrounded by Myanmar on three sides and is near China.

The Centre is in favour of the move because the security establishment believes that co-opting the Lisus, who also live in China and are influenced by Han Chinese culture, could prevent them from being co-opted by the Chinese. In other words, the Lisus could be better entrenched into the Indian mainstream.

The community has its population in four villages, including Vijaynagar and Gandhigram where the Assam Rifles has a presence since 1961. It was during the first forays by the Assam Rifles that the Lisus had helped the Indian forces as porters.

Living on the southeastern periphery of the Namdapha tiger reserve, the Lisus have been demanding inclusion in the list of Scheduled Tribes (ST) for 20 years. The state cabinet is likely to clear the proposal shortly, a state government source said.

“It is an important decision because the Lisus also live in China’s Yunnan province and in the Sagaing division of Myanmar that borders India,” a source said. “Besides recognising them as one of the Arunachalese peoples, it could also help prevent poaching in Namdapha forest,” he added.

While some believe that it is the Lisus who actually protect the forests, sections of the state administration insist that Lisus are responsible for hunting tigers.

However, it is the strategic aspect that the Centre is likely to focus upon more intently before taking a final call.
The Arunachal government will forward a proposal to grant ST status to the Lisus to the Union home ministry after the cabinet approves it.

One aspect that has puzzled security agencies is the clamour by minority religious organisations for ST status for the Lisus.

“If pushing for their ST status is used as a pre-condition to convert them then it needs to be verified,” a government source said.

Moreover, there are pockets of Lisu population who have converted to Christianity in Myanmar. A Buddhist-majority Myanmar has been suspicious of Christian missionaries working in the tribal areas of northern and northwestern Myanmar.

“They deserve it (ST status),” minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju told The Telegraph today. A delegation of Lisus had recently called on Rijiju.

The All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union, however, has reservations about the government’s move. An AAPSU source said it would not allow granting them ST status unless a detailed study is done on the Lisu people’s migration and origins. “We need to know the ground realities,” the source said.

Charles Maung Bo, who was installed by Pope Francis as the first Cardinal from Myanmar on February 14, has expressed concern over intolerance towards Myanmar’s religious minorities, especially Rohingya Muslims.

Source: The Telegraph (17 February 2015)

Objection of AAPSU on Yobin ST

It took me a while to read the concerns the AAPSU has raised over the Yobin ST issue since the heading was under “AAPSU demands immediate halt of prepaid metering system” (Arunachal Times, 18 February 2015). The concern was raised to the Chief Secretary, not the Chief Minister. See the complete below highlighted in red.

My reading into their objections: The first, is that the student body felt upset that the Cabinet has not consulted them. Second, the union has mixed up between the PRC and ST issue. Ours has never been a demand for PRC, but rightly on ST. Third, they question the scrutiny process. In our case, multiple studies were done by AAPSU themselves in March 2013, administration through ethnographic record and recommendations etc.

Also I have compiled the response from Mr. Phuyosa Yobin on this regard at the Arunachal Times’ Readers’ Forum (20 February 2015)

Careful Attention Needed for Vijoynagar Block

It is now almost two years since the creation of a separate Vijoynagar Block. There seems to be several gaps in the way it is being run. The people in Kerala calls such gaps “spelling mistakes”, meaning there is something wrong, something fishy, that deserves careful scrutiny. Lets have a look,

· Announcement of block: It was done in such a hurry in March 2013, just a month before the Panchayat election in April the same year. Due to that, even additional Anchal Samiti Member seats were not allotted. Till date the Notification for the Block is not given to our public leaders, including the ASMs.

· Infrastructures: No separate Block Development Officer (BDO) is not assigned. The Miao BDO operates for Vijoynagar Block as well, who is physically far from the actual sites. All financial transactions have to be at Miao since there are no banks in Vijoynagar. The Circle Officer (CO) is not stationed in Vijoynagar. The Miao CO takes in-charge who has not been even in Vijoynagar till today and has no good knowledge of the area.

· Intentionally MISPLACED names: The village names for both the Enumeration Block Nos: 0037_0 and 0038_0 has been wrongly mentioned as Deban Forest Camp (Deban). It should be corrected as AGUCHI & NGWAZAKHA for EB No: 0037_0 and NIBODI for EB No: 0038_0. These villages are NOT located at Deban; they are at 38th Mile and 52nd Mile respectively, along the Miao-Vijoynagar Road.

· Lisu villages included under Miao Block: Aguchi, Ngwazakha and Nibodi villages are demarcated under Miao Block. This is unfair and testing the limit of our Lisu temper. They must come within the purview of our claim of traditional land. All Panchayati leaders, YTWC, political workers, GBs must unite to fight this injustice.

· Block name: Our leaders had been demanding that the block should be Dawodi Block. But against our wishes, the government name it Vijoynagar Block. This is not acceptable and we must demand change for the name.

I believe these are just samples of the manipulations that I see. We need action heroes who will challenge unreasonable official authorities, and if necessary file court cases against them.