How the Merger Plan between Assam Rifles and ITBP will Work?

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Feature Desk

The home ministry of India is planning to merge Assam Rifles with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), which guards the Indo-China border. In January 2013, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had prepared a draft for Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) proposing Assam Rifles to be replaced with the BSF on the Myanmar border and transferring the AR’s operational control to the MHA. The MoD had then agreed with the first part of the proposal, but wanted the Army to retain operational control. At present, the home ministry has the administrative authority over Assam Rifles while the Army has its operational control (since 1965). Director General and 80% officers of Assam Rifles are from army. The army authority thinks that shifting the operational control of the Assam Rifles from the Army to the home ministry will severely jeopardize the surveillance along the Line of Actual Control with China. The Assam Rifles provides significant assistance in keeping strict surveillance over the border with China and this outfit is being utilized for better coordination while conducting anti-terror operations in the region. The Assam Rifles fills the void when Army units carry forward the battle to the enemy territory. This is the only genuine paramilitary force which actively participated in all the wars since Independence including the 1962 and 1971 wars. The Assam Rifles is the oldest paramilitary force of India. They perform many roles including the provision of internal security under the control of the army. Besides those, the following important tasks are being performed by Assam Rifles:

  • Counter insurgency operations.
  • Provision of aid to the civilians in times of emergency.
  • The provision of communications, medical assistance and education in remote areas.
  • In times of war they can also be used as a combat force to secure rear areas if needed.
  • Since 2002 it has been guarding the Indo-Myanmar border

Assam Rifles has become the right arm of the civil and the left arm of the military in the region. This outfit maintained their peacekeeping role in the north eastern areas in the face of growing tribal unrest and insurgency in 1950s and 60s. In this environment, the maintenance of law and order, countering insurgency and reassuring the people of the region became important tasks for the Assam Rifles.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) is one of the seven Central Armed Police Forces of India, raised in the wake of the Sino-Indian War of 1962. The ITBP was intended for deployment along India’s border with Tibet.

The security situation in the North eastern region has been fragile due to the issue of National Register of Citizens (NRC), ongoing peace talks with Naga groups, apprehension among people of Manipur and Assam and NRC updating process is also likely to cause some turbulence.

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