Source: The Assam Sentinel, 1 September 2010 (accessed: 2 September 2010).

ITANAGAR, Sept 1: The humanitarian campaign to raise the unheard voice of the marginalized Yobin tribe, who are literally and practically searching for an Arunachalee identity, began today with the Sokjar & Gamde Gamlin Foundation (S&GGF) sponsored symposium here today. The symposium, partnered by The Sentinel (Arunachal), witnessed elaborate discussion and deliberations from an array of politicians, academicians, media persons, student leaders, human right defenders and representatives of the Yobin community of Vijayanagar.

Giving the keynote address, Finance Minister Setong Sena, who represents the area of the Yobins in the Cabinet, strongly advocated for recognition of Yobins as Arunachalee Schedule Tribe.

Putting on record that he spoke on individual capacity and not as a minister, Sena said, “Yobins are not Burmese refugees as conceived by most. They are Indian citizens and tribal ethnic people of Arunachal Pradesh.”

Giving an overview of the history, he said that Yobins are part and parcel of Arunachal Pardesh, who were in fact recognized as APSTs earlier but for reasons not clear it was unceremoniously stripped off later.

Thanking the S&GGF for creating a platform where the unheard voices of the Yobins could be heard, Sena said, “This is a great platform. Every civil society of the state including AAPSU should encourage such activity.”

AAPSU president Takam Tatung, on the other hand, called for an in-depth discussion on the issue of granting APST status to the Yobin community by taking the views and consideration of all the indigenous communities of the state.

“This issue has been always in the AAPSU agenda. Therefore, it won’t be advisable for me to speak in favor or against granting of APST status to the Yobins at this juncture,” Tatung added. AAPSU general secretary Tujum Poyom toed the same line and refused to comment expressing ‘confusion’. He, however, proposed further discussion and understanding of the facts.

Phusa Yobin, president of the Yobin Tribe Welfare Committee (YTWC), outlining the historical attachment of Yobins with Arunachal Pradesh since NEFA days questioned the ‘confusing’ stand of the state as well as the central government.

“We are living in our land which comes under Vijaynagar circle of Changlang district since early 19th century. Why are we being neglected by the state and central government is quite confusing and frustrating,” he said.

Advocating Yobin’s share of freedom and equality, Power Minister Jarbom Gamlin, as an individual, assured to support the campaign for grant of APST status to Yobins.

He said, “If they (Yobins) were given ST status in 1971, they deserve ST status now.”

Gamlin also asserted that it was unfair to compare the Yobins with Chakmas on equal terms.

“We should not equate Yobins with Chakmas. Chakmas were thrust upon the state by the Center from Bangladesh. But Yobins have been living in Vijaynagar area for centuries,” Gamlin argued.

Young MLA from Mechuka, Passang Dorjee Sona and Parliamentary Secretary C C Singpho also aired support for the cause of the Yobins. While Singpho asserted that Yobins were of the same clan as the Singphos, Sona said there was no reason for the government to deny the basic rights of an indigenous tribe of the state.

Arunachal Citizens’ Right (ACR) Chairperson Bamang Tago, in his deliberation, educated the Yobin leaders on the basics rights of indigenous people given in the UN charter. Changlang MLA Kamlung Mossang, literally the elected representative of the Yobin community, invited the AAPSU leadership to visit Vijaynagar to know the ground reality of the Yobins and understand their stand. NESO Secretary General Gumjum Haider also vociferously supported the cause of the Yobins and advocated a strong campaign in favor of granting them APST status.

Dr Nani Bath and Sarit Choudhury of Rajiv Gandhi University also gave their perspectives on the Yobins from the point of view of academicians.

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