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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“Stop enrolment of non-APST in PR system” Org

Here is a news that highlights that calls for Panchayati Raj participation is only for APST published at AP Times (28 November 2017) and also in Dawnlit Post.

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VIJOYNAGAR, Nov 27: Claiming that non-APST persons have been allowed to cast votes in the Panchayati Raj elections in Vijoynagar circle of Changlang district, the All Arunachal Pradesh Anti-Corruption Students’ Union (AAPACSU) has appealed to the state Chief Secretary to direct the Deputy Commissioner of Changlang to stop enrolment of non-APST in the upcoming PR elections at 50th Miao ST Constituency.

In a letter to the Chief Secretary on Monday, the Union stated that allowing non-APST persons to cast votes in PR elections is against the Arunachal Panchayati Raj Act of 1997.
‘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’, it added.

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ST certificates to Yobins halted as govt violates constitutional norm

I was so glad that in 6 February 2015 the State Govt cleared our tribal identity by a Gazette. But that justice was shortlived. By January 2017 the Cabinet cancelled and the ADC stopped issuing certificates from March onward. Even after repeated appeal the govt turned deaf hears to our needs. What local govt we have? Here is now a release from the AP Times’ correspondent, Tongam Rina (24 Nov 2017).

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ITANAGAR, Nov 23: The issuance of Schedule Tribe (ST) certificates to the Yobin tribe has been halted since March 2017, thanks to a faulty notification issued on February 2015 by the state government.

The state cabinet, led by then Chief Minister Nabam Tuki had taken a decision to grant ST status to the Yobin tribe on 4 February, 2015, following which, the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment and Tribal Affairs, issued a notification two days later, proclaiming the tribe as Schedule Tribe of the state.

But the notification came under the scrutiny of the central government as it violated laid down provisions of the Indian constitution.

After the notification was issued, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, New Delhi wrote back to the Chief Secretary in April 2015 stating that notification of Yobin Tribe as Schedule Tribe is not in accordance with the provisions of Article 342 (2) of the Constitution of India and therefore, the notification may be withdrawn.

Two years later, The Pema Khandu-led Government made its first attempt to rectify the mistake of the earlier cabinet.

An order was issued on January 25, 2017 by the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment and Tribal Affairs, wherein it said that the “State cabinet in its meeting held on 4th January, 2017 had approved for cancellation of the Notification ( No. Secy(SW)/SC/St(IN-EX-99/Pt-II dated 06-02-2015) regarding the ‘Yobin Tribe’ as Scheduled Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. The Governor of Arunachal Pradesh is pleased to rescind/ withdraw/ cancel the Notification with immediate effect”.

The notification did not say anything else on the fate of the ST status of the community, according to documents accessed by this daily.

Instead, the cabinet decision in January has led to mass denial of ST certificates to the tribe since March this year, even though the centre has specifically said that responsibility for issuance and verification of scheduled tribe certificates rests with the state government.

While responding to a representation by Avia (Aphu) Ngwazah, General Secretary of the Yobin Tribe Fundamental Rights Forum on the issue, Uttam Kumar Kar, Under Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs on 28 June, 2015 had said that the notification issued by the Government of Arunachal Pradesh in 2015 was not in accordance with the provision of the Constitution of India, but issuance of the ST certificates rests with the state government.

The office of the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Miao in Changlang district in a response to this daily said that ST certificates are currently not being issued to the tribe.

While speaking to this daily, Ngwazah said that Yobins should not be deprived of the certificates as he demanded the state government to take up with the centre for early rectification of the faulty notification.

The Yobin Community has appealed to the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary to help rectify the mistake at the earliest as the community is facing acute difficulties in absence of ST certificates.

This is not the first time that the tribe has been struggling with their tribal identity.

Though they were recognized as APST in 1979, but soon the recognition was withdrawn. The tumultuous journey of the community, which is spread across Aguchi, Dawodi, Gandhigram (Shi-Di), Hazolo, Pritnagar, Maludi, Shidikhu, Sichoto, Mibodi and Ngwazakha villages in Vijoynagar circle (Known locally as Da-Wo-Di valley) as well as in Miao in Changlang district, continues in terms of their Arunachalee identity as well as total deprivation of basic facilities.

Even today, the entire Vijoynagar circle is not accessible by road. Though there is limited air connectivity, the service is weather dependent and villagers have to walk for days together to access basic facilities.

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Cement bag for Rs 8,000 in isolated Vijoynagar for IHHL

The Dawodi area remains a good and often fascinating news to share to the world. This news item from AP Times (November 19, 2017) is one such, as usual.

In this write, there is an advanced lame excuse by the PHE Department to have something to say on the set deadline.

We don’t need such words. We need active propaganda and actions on people who delay the construction of Miao-Vijoynagar Road.

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ITANAGAR, Nov 18: People living in Vijoynagar in Changlang district has to pay Rs 8,000 for one bag of cement, that too if it is available.

Vijoynagar, a sub-divisional town under Changlang district with just 1500 residents, has no proper surface communication. People have to walk for five days from the nearest thoroughfare in Miao to reach the town.

Though there is a weekly helicopter service for transporting supplies but that is largely subjected to weather condition.

“The Chakmas, who travel long distances on foot to transport cement, charge Rs 8,000 for one bag. A water closet pan comes for Rs 2,000,” Public Health Engineering department junior engineer Jumli Ado told PTI.

The PHE Department is undertaking construction of Individual Household Latrine (IHHL) in the town, a project partially funded by the Centre – Rs 10,800 from the central government and Rs 9,200 by the state for one IHHL.

“All materials are transported to Vijoynagar, at the India-China-Myanmar tri-junction, through Namdapha National Park by Chakmas. They charge Rs 8,000 per bag of cement (Rs 150 per kg),” Ado disclosed.

They carry the materials on their back and walk down 156 km for five days to reach the destination, Ado said, adding one could imagine the challenges this hilly state faces in achieving the open defecation free (ODF) status by December.

Ado, while taking part in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan – Gramin (SBA-gramin) awareness programme at Namphainong village of the district on November 4, had said despite numerous challenges IHHL project is moving at a fast pace.

State Civil Supply Minister Kamlung Mossang, who represents Miao assembly constituency, said the state government has approved a road construction project for the area.

Bordumsa village (headman) Shekhep and ODF consultant Nyabon Pongtey added that journey to Vijoynagar by foot is a herculean task. Development naturally moves at a snail’s speed in this part of the state, they said.

“Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju had announced in Itanagar in July 2014 a central government proposal to populate nearly 100 villages situated along the border. Though Arunachal shares international boundary of 1,680 km with Bhutan, China and Myanmar, the project has not seen the light of the day,” Shekhep lamented.

Development is still a mirage in this sensitive border state for lack of connectivity even after three decades of establishment. Many of the inhabited villages in far-flung areas are inaccessible and deprived of essential commodities.

The North Eastern Frontier Agency (NEFA), largest among seven NE states, was created in 1954. It became a union territory and was renamed Arunachal Pradesh on January 20, 1972 and finally statehood on February 20, 1987.

The Central Purchase Organization (CPO) with base at Mohanbari in Assam’s Dibrugarh district, now known as the public distribution system (PDS), was very effective in the 80s when essential items were airdropped in many remote areas.

With the PDS proving ineffective, today salt which costs Rs 20 per kg in state capital is about Rs 250 in many border areas, including Vijoynagar.

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An Unfortunate Situation at Shidi village

Yesterday a middle aged man died in Shidi village. About a month ago he had surgery for appendicitis and was recuperating. His son and daughter and relatives living at Miao were not suspecting something serious was happening to their father.

A friend told me this man passed away at about 10 am (Sunday, 22 Oct 2017). I went to see whether the family at Miao received the tragic news. To my surprise, they did not even hear he was sick! I felt not comfortable to break news and just said the father is really serious and encouraged them to enquire about the father.

About an hour later a family member called from their village from the only operating Satellite Phone. The news broke the sister and brother.

What has been frustrating is the sister and brother is not able to be present when the last rite is conducted for the father. Although, the distance from Miao to Shidi is 130 km, it takes four days on foot since no road has been constructed till date.

The PMGSY road foundation stone was laid in 2011 but no visible improvement is seen. The four days walk continues to take the same time and distance as in the 1960s. The Miao – Vijoynagar Road remains a fascinating to cover a story, nothing more.

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Admin cornered for issuing rampant birth certificates

This news release appeared at Eastern Sentinel (18th Aug 2017). I pick up two observations from this information. First, the administration is careless. Without even casual checking, affidavits were signed. Second, the Settlers are trying to create false “proofs” of their age. Whatever the be the motivation for making up their false swearing, only time will tell.

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ITANAGAR, Aug 18:The All Yobin Students Union in a memorandum submitted to Deputy Commissioner, Miao has expressed strong objection over the rampant issuance of Birth Certificates by district administration, based on false declaration of affidavits by individuals, who claim themselves to be ex-Assam Rifles settlers.

The Union disclosed that ex-Assam Rifles mostly comprising of non- indigenous people were given temporary settlement in Vijaynagar Circle by uprooting the tribal villages during Northeast Frontier Agency (NEFA) Period.

However, the union alleged that presently few have started to claim themselves to be born in the area prior to the settlement of local tribals and ownership of land.

Upset over inaction of concern Additional Deputy Commissioner towards the issue, the union questioned the ADC for allowing them to settle in the tribal areas violating the Bengal Frontier Regulation Act, 1873.

Terming such development as threat to existence of locals, the Union opined that thorough inquiry needs to be done to unearth the truth and bring it to light and demanded the DC to initiate probe into the matter.

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Autonomous Council: A Reflection

In recent years, the demand for Autonomous Councils gained momentum in Arunachal Pradesh such as Patkai Autonomous Development Council (PADC) and Mon Autonomous Development Council. Out of curiosity I attended in one of the PADC meetings at Circuit House, Miao. Lots of deliberations were happening. Then there is also many policies and agendas hidden in the form of Byelaws. For example no response for “Where will be the two Unreserved Seats?

I got interested as this will impact my life too. The following are my learning about Autonomous Councils.

  • Autonomous Councils are general called Autonomous Administration Divisions, given by Central Government with varying degrees of autonomy within the State Legislature.
  • Several Autonomous Councils are in India, mostly in the North East: nine in Assam, three in Meghalaya, three in Mizoram, two in Jammu & Kashmir, and one each in Tripura, West Bengal and Manipur. Whole state of Meghalaya is Autonomous Councils. Most of these councils are allotted along the ethnic lines.
  • Most of the establishment and functions are based on the sixth schedule article 244 (2) & Article 275(1) to the Constitution of India.
  • The council is given Executive, Judiciary, Legislative and financial powers (more on this from Raghav article).

ISSUES

Such councils have been created in those states which has Sixth Scheduled status. Whereas Arunachal Pradesh had not given that status (The State of Arunachal Pradesh Act 1986). Would then, the Central Government grant Autonomous Councils?

The demand by PADC is based on Article 371(A) which is in line with Nagaland Statehood Bill. A news release by AAPSU summarized as:

Reminding that the Article 371 (A) is a special provision granted to Nagaland as a partial fulfillment of the 1960 agreement that created the state in 1963, AAPSU expressed dismay at the demand made by the PADC for an ADC in line with the Nagaland Statehood Bill. “It is a serious matter which needs to ponder upon and cannot be just wished away. (North East Today)

The objection by the non-Naga tribes Singpho, Khampti and Yobin was on that same article (AP Times). Nothing else.

But for me having further development structure do not make difference. Someone said, Power Corrupts. Absolute power corrupt absolutely. Our area is popular for corruption. I do not see much hope. What we need is, better people, visionary people and loving people.

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Helpful links:

  • Autonomous administrative divisions of India (Wikipedia)
  • Powers of Autonomous Councils in Tribal Areas in North East India (Raghav Gupta)