The Yobin Community Still Seeking Arunachal Tribal Identity After 57 Long Years!

First Published: AP Times and Independent Review (Readers’ Forum, 3 August 2013) and TOI Readers’ Forum.

It is proclaimed that democracy is of the people, by the people and for the people. But for the “Yobin” community of Arunachal Pradesh, it is far from being true! For us, the governmental care went from bad to worse. And now we do not even know whether we are a tribe of Arunachal or not. We are not very sure if India is embracing us or alienating us.

As a community of Changlang District, we had a long series of injustice meted by the Government of India/Arunachal Pradesh. First, the Government took as many as 5 of our villages in Vijoynagar Circle and settled the Nepali/Ghurkha pensioners in our villages. Then after the 1975 general election our electoral rolls were deleted and we remained just like “refugees” in our own land from 1979 to 1994. Most significantly, the Yobin tribe is totally denied the Scheduled Tribe (ST) facilities and ST Certificates. This is to name just to name a few. We are in utter amazement as to why we have not been recognized as a tribe of Arunachal state. Below we share a few of the whys and wherefores of our astonishment.

The Presidential Order of 1956 and the SC & ST Act 1956 declared that “all tribes” in North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) are Scheduled Tribes. But the Yobin tribe of NEFA/Arunachal are still denied the ST status and facilities. Whoever is “playing” will have to answer to His Excellency, the President of India. No authority in India must be allowed to make a mockery of the President and the Law of India. We have been thinking that we the Yobin is a tribe and are living in NEFA/Arunachal Pradesh. Were we wrong?

The Yobins have lived in Vijoynagar area from the times immemorial. Only on 7th May 1961, our first contact with the Indian Paramilitary during their Chaukan Pass Expedition began. Our land technically became Indian Territory when international boundary pillars were erected in 1972-74, where the Yobin served as guides which continue to this day. But the ‘local’ people have not been entered in the Sixth Schedule of Indian Constitution even after 57 long years. 57 years since all Tribes of NEFA were declared Scheduled Tribes by the President of India in 1956. If the Government of India is not willing to recognize us as the aboriginal tribe of Arunachal Pradesh, Vijoynagar does not belong to India either. How can you take our land and not take us as a tribe of Arunachal?

While, all the other native tribes of Arunachal are enjoying ST facilities on their own tribe’s name or as sub-tribe/s, ONLY the Yobin is left without any ST facilities. Why are Yobin alone is discriminated? We had been enlisted at S. No. “78” (1961) and at “107” (1981) in Censuses. The latest Census continues to enumerate us as “individual Scheduled Tribe”. Is it right for the government to enumerate us under Scheduled Tribe in every Census but provide no facilities? What about the dignity of a tribe or the dignity of a country to treat its citizens in this manner?

The Gazette of India is an authorized legal document of the Government of India. In that “Yobin” is always gazetted as a Scheduled Tribe of NEFA then and now of Arunachal. But recently, we were surprised to find that the office of  National Informatics Centre, Changlang District classified us “other settlers”. This is in direct contradiction to the Gazetteer of India-Tirap, © Government of Arunachal Pradesh, 1980;where the “Yobin” is notified as a tribe of the District. In this Gazette, the YOBIN is clearly set apart from “other displaced people settled in the district…” Why is the administration so blind to the facts and do no good to the Yobin? Are the unjust afflictions against the Yobins not enough?

Further, the Council of Ministers (Arunachal Pradesh) have approved the Yobin as ST in 2000 and forwarded to the Govt of India. The same was presented in Lok Sabha on 18 Dec 2002 which was approved under the SC&ST (Second Amendment) Bill, 2002. Subsequently, an ethnographic information was demanded and provided, vide memo no Secy (SW) SC/ST (IN-EX) 99, dated 20 Nov 2006. But then no further news have returned to us. Are all the facts regarding the Yobin buried under bureaucratic files again?

These are a few questions in regard to the ST restoration of Yobin. We plead to Government of Arunachal Pradesh and India: Let the atrocities to the Yobin end in 2013. Let the GoAP persuade the Central Government to clear our way immediately and list the Yobin in the Sixth Schedule of Indian Constitution.

Let the Members of Parliament from Arunachal Pradesh, Ninong Ering, Sanjay Takam and Mukut Mithi, place our case before the Lok Sabha on 5 August and before the Rajya Sabha without fail.

We understand that the ST issue will come up in Lok Sabha in the first week of August. And may we trust the “People First Government” of India will not silence the YOBIN Issue once more?

Alienate the YOBIN TRIBE of Arunachal no more! We are almost losing our faith in the goodness of our government! Do us justice today!

Yours truly,

Avia, Liahey, Barak, Aphusay, Bindu and Jotisay

Representatives from Yobin Community, Miao

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