Yobin Tribe of Arunachal Pradesh has been called “a Little-Known Tribe” by both senior ethnographer Asim Maitra and Research Officer D. Yupang. Indeed little known is the tribe perhaps owing to geographical isolation, as one of the reasons.
The prime abode of the Tribe, Dawodi (renamed as Vijoynagar in 1962) of Arunachal is surrounded by Myanmar on three sides. The area is nestled in the vast forest coverage. The going to Vijoynagar area is not for the weak-willed. Even now, either one fly or hikes for 5 to 9 days, depending on the habit and stamina of the person.
Some senior shopkeepers of Miao town remember how the CRPF used to detain Yobin tribesmen in Miao in the late 1960s. Those days the military had no idea that there were Indians beyond Miao-Deban forests. At such times local patriarchs like late Pisi Nong (PI) used to enlighten the military and free the Yobin tribesmen who used to visit Ledo or Naharkatia for essential commodities.
Big changes came from 1960s. In May 1961 an Expedition team (called OP Srijitga) carried out by the Assam Rifles ran into Yobin Tribe in Sidi (Gandhigram). And then in 1962 an administrative unit as well as an Assam Rifles outpost were established in Vijoynagar. And from 1967-1971 retired Assam Rifles personnel were settled in Vijoynagar area. This happened after the Govt had planned it during the 4th Five-Year Plan. After all these have transpired, the outside world came to know of Yobin Tribe who lived in what was once called as “no-man’s land”. But the Yobins who lived in Assam were documented much earlier.
Yobin tribe figures out as one of the Scheduled Tribes of NEFA, as listed in the “Census Circular No 15” of 1971 at Sl. No. 78. And again the Gazetteer of India puts Yobin as a Scheduled Tribe of Tirap. Ref Tirap Gazetteer Pg no. 44. Thus Yobin tribe enjoyed all ST facilities till the late 1970s.
The ST atrocities for Yobin tribe began since 1978-79. ST certificates and facilities were yanked without notification or explanations! After much pleading, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, in 2014, directed the Govt of Arunachal Pradesh to “issue community Certificates” to the members of Yobin Tribe. Thus the Govt of AP re-started issuing ST Certificates and benefits to Yobin Community since Feb 2015.
However, Yobins’ joy lived short. Again, the ST was withdrawn in January 2017! This was something not done! We could not believe that Extra Ordinary Gazette Notification of Government regarding Yobin ST could be cancelled without immediate rectification!
The Yobin community approached Constitutional and Legal Division (C&LM) of Ministry of Tribal Affairs GOI, as well as NCST (National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, GOI). Both the Ministry and the Commission clarified that Yobin ST notification was directed to be cancelled for the Notification per se was not congruent with the Constitution of India. While the objection was not on the People, it was on the Notification itself.
Both the Commission and the Ministry upheld that Yobin ST does not come under Constitutional Article 342(2) but it comes under the Presidential (ST&SC) Orders 1950 Part XVIII.
To further pursue Yobin issue, the NCST called a Hearing on Yobin ST issue on the 1st May 2018 at the Commission’s Conf Room, New Delhi. Govt of AP was represented by Dept of SJETA and fficials of MTA, and the NSCS, and Yobin leaders as Petitioners were present. The hearing was chaired by Nand Sai, Honorable Chairman of NCST.
During the hearing, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs deposited that the Ministry had already issued notification to Govt of AP since February 2018 that ST benefits and Certificates to be extended to Yobin Community.
The Commission also heard from me and Tifusa Yobin about various issues on Yobin ST atrocities.
Finally, the Chairman Nand Sai advised the Govt of AP to re-start ST benefits and ST Certificates to the members of Yobin Community immediately.
Again, on 30th May, the NCST wrote to the Chief Secretary of AP, asking to furnish the “action taken report” on Yobin ST issue. In the letter, the NCST directed, “… the State Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh is advised to extend the benefits of ST to Yobin tribe and also issue ST cast Certificates to Yobin tribe immediately”
On 24th July, the Yobin ST approval was reported in Lok Sabha by Minister of States, Tribal Affairs and ever since the congratulations are pouring in.
The long struggle for Yobin is now being put behind us. And the Yobin community is grateful to one and all. The struggles have not been easy. It stretched to over 30 years of deprivations.
The recommendations of ORGI, and NCST for Yobin ST were done in 2014. The State Govt of Arunachal Pradesh recommended Yobin ST to MTA many times.
The Yobin tribe gratefully acknowledge sympathetic support from the MTA, NCST, MHA. And of the Govt of AP; we thank our CM, Cabinet Ministers, Constituency Minister, our MPs, SJETA, local Administration, fellow tribes, Student communities, SBOs, Media houses, and every soul that saw our pains and offered help in small and big ways.
Yobin is an enigmatic community which thrived during prolonged political draught. And in a way, in securing Constitutional and Legal justice for Yobin Tribe, the Constitution of India (The Presidential (SC&ST) Order 1950 is honored. The letter and spirit of the Constitution is upheld. And above all, God Almighty is pleased.
We thank you friends!
GS, Yobin Tribe
Fundamental Rights Forum, Miao