corner corner
DG AR: OPEN HOUSE/FORUM ON EVERY SATURDAY BETWEEN 1100-1300 HRS AT HQ DGAR, LAITKOR SHILLONG: CHECK VIGILANCE PAGE
You are presently on History Page
THE ASSAM RIFLES: 179 YEARS OF GLORY AND SACRIFICE
 

The Assam Rifles raised as Cachar Levy in 1835 is the oldest Central Para Military Force in India. The Force was raised mainly to guard the alluvial plains of Assam from the wild and unruly tribes inhabiting the surrounding hill tracts. This was the earliest embodied unit of what eventually developed into  the Assam Rifles. Gradually more such units were raised and employed for establishing posts in the interior and thus acted as the strong arm of the civil administration in extending their authority into these remote inaccessible areas. They also helped in opening up these remote areas and all development activities earning many accolades from the administration. The Assam Rifles contribution towards assimilation of the people of the North-East into the national mainstream is truly monumental. Their long association with the region reflects in the force being fondly called "The Sentinels of the North-East" and "Friends of the Hill People". As on today, the Force has 46 battalions and has a dual role of maintaining internal security in the North-Eastern region and guarding the Indo-Myanmar Border. Variously designated and reorganised from time to time, as the Assam Frontier Police (1883), the Assam Military Police (1891) and Eastern Bengal and Assam Military Police (1913), it came to be known by its present name of the Assam Rifles, in 1917 in recognition of its contribution to the war effort during World War I. During its long history, the Assam Rifles has earned many laurels both in aid to the civil administration as also fighting alongside the Army. The Force has been officered by Army Officers since 1884 and is today, on a per capita basis perhaps the highest decorated security force in the country.

The Force has always extended a helping hand for humanitarian causes and in natural calamities. The force has made a significant impact on development activities in the North-East by way of construction of roads and tracks, water sup schemes, schools, community halls, play grounds for village children and repair/ maintenance of buildings in the remote areas. Operationally, the force has a proud record of taking part in both the world wars and all post independence conflicts. During World War I, the Assam Rifles fought alongside the Indian Army in Flanders. In recognition of the excellent services rendered the force was christened as ‘Assam Rifles’.

Assam Rifles remained untouched by World War II until the danger of Japanese invasion made it imperative to deploy forces on the North East Sector as well. WW II saw the force functioning as elements of the much fabled, hush-hush and ghost-like “V” Force, on reconnaissance and harassment missions behind Japanese lines in Burma. Many of its sub units fought alongside regular British and Indian troops in the fiercely contested battles of the Burma Front from Ukhrul to Kohima. Units rendered yeoman service in the management, evacuation and control of refugees of Burma/NEFA in the face of the onslaught of the Imperial Japanese Army in the First Burma Campaign of WWII.

Following the end of the war, the five Assam Rifles battalions became part of the civil police under the Assam Inspector General of Police. After independence, however, the Indian government assigned the Assam Rifles its own Inspector General. The Assam Rifles were then placed under command of the Ministry of External Affairs as part of the North Eastern Frontier Agency. Post 1965 the force has come under the Ministry of Home Affairs while the operational control of the force continues to be with the Army.The present Director General of the Assam Rifles is Lieutenant General R K Rana, SM, VSM. 

In 1947 the state of Tripura was threatened by Pakistani Irregulars from East Pakistan on the lines of their invasion of Kashmir. Ten platoons under the IGAR were flown to Agartala and carried out operations to deter the Pakistan irregulars from making any further move. The Assam Rifles contained the threat. The role of the Assam Rifles continued to evolve; when in 1950 a devastating earthquake hit the Assam region and the force was called in to assist in the reconstruction of the areas and help in the resettlement and rehabilitation of those affected by it.

In late 1953 the first signs of political unrest were noticed in Tuensang in Nagaland and the Indian Army was called in with the Assam Rifles providing the main force to contain the rebels. The grave threat posed by the insurgency necessitated the expansion of Assam Rifles. This also resulted in the creation of the Assam Rifles Training Centre at Missamari on 01 Jan 1959 that was designed to train 600 recruits at a time.

The force was once again called to undertake a combat role, when in 1959 the Chinese annexed Tibet. His Holiness the Dalai Lama fled from Tibet and came to India. He was received at the Chuthangmu Pass on the Mc Mahon Line by the men of the 5th Battalion Assam Rifles and escorted safely to Misamari in the Foothills. For this act, His Holiness donated all his weapons to the battalion and blessed the Force with the following words:-

MAY YOUR LUCK INCREASE TO THE SIZE OF A MOUNTAIN MAY YOUR FAME BE SUCH AS TO COVER THE WHOLE SKY MAY YOUR KNOWLEDGE BECOME VAST AND DEEP AS THE SEA LONG AND HEALTHY LIVES TO YOU AND HOPE YOUR WORK. FOR OTHERS, WILL BE A SUCCESS.

Following the annexation of Tibet by the Chinese, The Indian Army was compelled to adopt a forwards posture to prevent any Chinese occupation of Indian Territory by force. The Assam Rifles unit established new posts in uninhabited areas at high altitudes in order to maintain a constant vigilance of our border and when the Chinese finally attacked in Oct 1962, officers and men of the force fought bravely combating and delaying the Chinese advance thereby allowing the Indian Army to reach their battle locations in time. The Assam Rifles had once again proved their dependability.

During the 1965 Indo – Pak conflict the Assam Rifles filled the void in Nagaland and Manipur due to the move of the army units for operations in the west. They conducted counter insurgency operations and were in addition responsible for the general law and order situation. Its deployment was further stretched as they were to stand in for the army along the Indo-Tibetan border and the international border with the erstwhile East Pakistan in Tripura. Rather thin on the ground, they fulfilled their assignments with the usual élan and fortitude. During the 1971 Indo – Pak conflict the brief encompassed not only Nagaland and Manipur but also Mizoram and Tripura, where active counter insurgency operations were in full swing.

OP PAWAN in Sri Lanka saw the deployment of 22, 23 and 26 battalions from Dec 1988 to Feb 1990. 7 and 26 battalions also saw active counter insurgency operations in the Srinagar Valley.

Through its long deployment in the tribal belt, the Assam Rifles have developed an ethos primarily based on friendship with the people of the region and have earned their complete confidence. The Assam Rifles have traditionally participated in all developmental activities of the region and have helped in bringing the people of this remote and under developed region into the national main stream. The Assam Rifles detachments located in remote areas continue to influence every aspect of the lives of the people of the region, be it education, health, constructional activity, agricultural assistance, veterinary assistance, or assistance during natural calamities. The humane, just and ever helping approach of the men of the force have managed to win the hearts and minds of the populace in a good natured and large-hearted manner. It is; therefore, not for nothing, that the famous and erudite anthropologist and naturalist Verrier Elwin, who was nominated by the Government of India as adviser on Tribal Affairs to North-East Frontier Agency; had this to say as tribute to the force:-

“The custodians of law and order, the pioneers of every advance in to the interior, the guardians of our borders and, the friends of the hill people. Modestly, and without fuss, they have faced every hardship and difficulty, and thousands of villagers in the wildest of areas think of them with affection and gratitude”.

At present The Force is a potent organization with 46 battalions and its associated command and administrative back up. It is designated by the GoM committee as the Border Guarding Force for the Indo – Myanmaar border and is also its lead intelligence agency.