Khandu government should not perpetrate political victimization of Yobins

Source: The Assam Sentinel, 18 October 2010 (accessed: 19 October 2010).

ITANAGAR, Oct 18: On September 29 last, most of the indigenous people in Arunachal Pradesh rejoiced the withdrawal of ‘permanent residence certificate’ or popularly known by its acronym ‘PRC’ for the non-Arunachalees like Mishings, Nepalis and Adivasis settled in the State. And many more Arunachalees celebrated the occasion as mark of respect to those few students’ bodies that relentlessly pursued the government for its inaction against the Supreme Court’s judgment.

Let’s put on record that in the last 14 months, for the first time, there was ‘no compromise’ on the vexed subject and organisations pushed through their agenda. But there are poignant and lingering questions about the manner in which entire episode was handled by the Government of Arunachal Pradesh. For example, if it could have been withdrawn, at the end, why did Khandu led government offer PRC to these communities in the first place? Was it a political game to see through the election period? Why didn’t government challenge the judgment then? What transpired during last month is a mere reflection of ‘lackadaisical attitude’ and ‘knee-jerk reaction’ of the government and its bureaucracy. All said and done, it is indeed a positive development and victory for the masses. Celebration ends here and it must end there.

In the milieu of celebrations, we all forgot that clubbing of ‘Yobins/Lisus’ with the other four communities— is a classic and utter distortion of facts —politically and socially. Any student of history or politics of Arunachal Pradesh knows it too well that Yobins are not ‘non-Arunachalees’. Rather Yobins and their culture have always been one of the integral parts of Arunachal’s rich ethno-cultural diversity. Testimony to their identity is there in the Presidential Order of 1956; otherwise one may revisit the 1961 census report or may flip through the pages of ‘Chowkan Pass Expedition of 1961’; or may be,  reconfirm the Census report of 1971— all would lead to only one thing: Yobins are Arunachalees and are very much Indians. Recall and remember that the native Yobins of Dawodi valley (present Vijoynagar) were dispossessed of their ancestral land to settle the Indian army personnel supposedly for strategic security reasons in the mid 60s onwards. They were enumerated in the 1981 population census yet not included in the electoral roll for the 1983 elections. And since then, the Yobins are being treated as non-Arunachalees whereas there does not even seem to be any official document regarding their delisting.  Instead of looking into the matter for reinstating the Arunachalee tribal status of the Yobins, the leadership in the State seems to be surely straying from the path of welfare for its own people. Even the ones living inside the forests (now declared as the Namdapha National Park ) are being asked to vacate the forests despite the provisions of something as good as the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

Given the facts—political and historical — it is utterly disappointing to note the stand of Khandu led government who  adopted a ‘majority appeasement policy’. Is this decision taken by Khandu led government a sign of days to come where minority tribes will get marginalized further under the pressure of majority tribes? Has Khandu made a paradigm shift from the Congress party’s philosophy of ‘minority welfare’ to ‘majority appeasement’? If that be the case, days ahead would be tough on all of us, in the context of Yobins, the U- turn by the State government was a political hara-kiri to say the least. Chickening-out of the ‘PRC issue’ by none other than PHE Minister Chowna Mein, who otherwise is counted amongst the tallest leader in Tirap-Changlang-Lohit belt and who himself had pushed for PRC of these communities was comical, to say the least. But Mein’s statement where he clubbed ‘Yobins’ along with other 4 communities was distasteful. Terming the ‘Yobins’ as non-Arunachalee, as quoted in a couple of dailies, was as good as calling his own community, ‘Thais’! Such non-deliberated thoughts converted to provocative words are reflections of ‘convenience’ attitudes of our politicians. How could Chowna Mein term Yobins as outsiders? Why did Setong Sena who represents Changlang district in the cabinet, allow Mein to club ‘Yobins’ along with other non-Arunachalees? Why didn’t Kamlung Mossang, the local MLA object to it? Perhaps, that’s politics; and leaders’ responses and reactions are political manoeuvres.(to be continued)                                                                                                  – By Jarpum Gamlin

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