Assam Rifles, established in 1835, stands as a distinctive paramilitary force within the six central armed police forces (CAPFs) overseen by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). In addition to its role in maintaining law and order, Assam Rifles plays a pivotal role in guarding the Indo-Myanmar border in the North East.
Dual Control Structure of Assam Rifles:
- Assam Rifles is the sole paramilitary force featuring a dual control structure. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) holds administrative control, while operational control lies with the Indian Army under the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
- This structure involves the MHA providing financial support and infrastructure, while the Army determines deployment, postings, transfers, and deputations. Key leadership positions, from DG to IG, are occupied by Army officers, and the force is commanded by a Lieutenant General.
- Recruitment, perks, promotions, and retirement policies align with MHA rules for CAPFs, sparking debates for a unified control under a single ministry.
Role and Contribution of Assam Rifles:
- Originating in 1835 with 750 men, Assam Rifles has a rich history, participating in two World Wars, the 1962 Sino-Indian War, and anti-insurgency operations in the North East.
- Originally named Assam Frontier Force, its post-Independence role expanded to punitive operations beyond Assam’s borders.
- Its versatile contributions include conventional combat in the Sino-India War, deployment in the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to Sri
- Lanka in 1987 (Op Pawan), and a peacekeeping role in the North-Eastern areas of India.
- The force holds the distinction of being the most awarded paramilitary force in both pre- and post-independent India.
Assam Rifles, with its dual control structure and storied history, exemplifies a unique paramilitary force with significant contributions to
India’s security landscape. The ongoing discussions regarding its control structure underscore the complexities inherent in managing a force with dual allegiances, prompting considerations for potential reforms in the future.