Yobins living life of deprivation for more than three decades

Source: The Assam Sentinel, 30 July 2010 (accessed: 10 August 2010).

ITANAGAR, July 30: Time and again, fellow Arunachalees have questioned Yobins’ Indian citizenship because of their ancestral history of which there is only oral history, not documented ones. In the past also, student bodies in the state have raised the subject of their citizenship but documentary evidences clearly indicates that Yobins have been living in Noa-Dehing valley in the eastern side of Changlang district mainly around Dawodi, Chidudi, Gwamidi, Badadi, Ngwanalo, Hazolo, Angichidu, Shidi (Gandhigram), Yebudi, Checheto, Nibodi in Dawodi circle or Vijaynagar circle before the start of 19th Century.

During Indian Government’s Chaukan Pass Expedition on May 7, 1961, after 14 years of India’s independence in 1947, late Major Sunder Singh of 7th Assam Rifles  announced, ‘You the Yobins are Indians.’ It was important for Major Sunder Singh to speak those words because there was no proper demarcation of Indo-Burma border then. And after that historical confidence building exercise with Yobins in Noa-Dehing valley, Indian administrative establishment was set up in Dawodi in 1962, under the then NEFA administration. Since then Yobins were treated like rest of Indian Citizens by the Government of India and they were provided for all the facilities including education, agriculture, livestock and medical care etc till 1978. But everything changed thereafter.

Phusa Yobin who has been spearheading the causes of deprived Yobins as the President of Yobin Tribe Welfare Committee says, “Our great grand-father traces their history to northern part of Burma, they migrated to Shidilomu in search of better cultivable land. And during early part of 19th Century, a group of Yobins migrated to Margerita under British establishment’s restricted area in Assam.” Further he shares that on Miao-Vijaynagar road (MV Road) at 77 mile there is a place called Lashisilo meaning ‘land of air droppings’. Explaining the historical significance of that place, Phusa says, “During World War-II between 1939 and 1945, Lashisilo was used for air-droppings by the Armies. That’s how the place derived its name.’

Historical documents clearly indicate that Yobins have been there before 1947 and the Indian Constitution provides for its citizenship under the constitution. The Article 5 of the Constitution talks about ‘citizenship at the commencement of the Constitution’, which further clarifies that at the commencement of this Constitution, every person who has his domicile in the territory of India and-(a) who was born in the territory of India; or (b) either of whose parents was born in the territory of India; or (c) who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding such commencement, shall be a citizen of India. It is in the spirit of India’s constitution that Yobins’ status as Indian Citizen can’t be questioned. Phusa reiterates, “We are also bonafide tribe of Arunachal Pradesh mentioned in serial no. 107 during 1981 census in accordance with the Presidential Order 1956 Para 2 of part II of Schedule III.” Despite that, Indian citizenship to the Yobins was restored in 1994 but till date they are denied of basic amenities provided to a normal citizen.

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