Yobins pained by ‘refugee’ label

Source: The Assam Sentinel,  8 August 2010 (accessed: 10 August 2010).

ITANAGAR, Aug 8: What pains the Yobins of Arunachal more than the neglect meted to them in last so many years is their comparison with the officially recognized refugees, whose date with Arunachal’s history is as recent as 1964.

“It is unfortunate that many of our own Arunachalees brethrens have equated us with the Chakmas and Hajongs despite the fact that we are constitutionally recognized Indian citizen and were granted APST status way back in 1961,” says Phusa Yobin, President of the Yobin Tribe Welfare Committee.

Unlike Yobins, the Buddhist Chakmas and Hindu Hajongs, originally belonged to the Chittagong Hill Tracts and Maimensingh districts respectively in Bangladesh. Communal violence and the construction of the Kaptai Hydroelectric Project displaced several Chakmas as much as persistent religious persecution of these Buddhist tribes forced them to migrate and take refuge in India in 1964. Even while pronouncing its judgment the Supreme Court on January 9, 1996 termed them as refugees.

“Comparing a constitutionally recognized Indian citizen with refugees is like comparing chalk with cheese. Our Arunachalee brothers and sisters should help us in restoring Schedule Tribe status,” Phusa asserts.

Displacing another misnomer about interchangeable usage of Yobin with Lisus, Phusa explains, “We are of Lisu origin but since the migration of forefathers into Dawodi areas in 19thcentury; we have had traditional relations with other ethnic tribes in the areas like Singphos and Tangsas. They refer to us as ‘Yobins’….and from time immemorial, we are known as Yobins.”

In turn, Yobins too have their own names for their immediate neighbors. They call Tangsas as Akhangpha while Singphos in Yobin language are Aphuphas.

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