Assam Rifles – ITBP Merger Plan: The brass of the Assam Rifles has raised concerns with Union Home Ministry over the proposed merger with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) citing that the move would result in a setback for operations against insurgent groups based in Myanmar active in the North – East.
Currently, the Home Ministry has administrative authority over the Assam Rifles, a paramilitary force, while the Army extends an operational control. The Army in response to the proposal has taken up the issue with the Defence Ministry seeking immediate intervention.
The Assam Rifles was raised in 1835 and has been carrying out counter-insurgency operations in the north-east. As per official sources, the Army has expressed concerns that shifting control of the unit to the Home Ministry will adversely impact the Army’s capability to guard the sensitive Sino-Indian border area.
Further, approximately 70-80 percent of the personnel of the Assam Rifles are deployed along the frontier in convention military roles.
A senior Army official commenting on the importance of the unit said, “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 were put under the complete control of the Army in terms of operation in 1965.
Apart from the concerns of the Indo-China border, the army has also questioned the proposal being brought when the security situation in the north-east has been turbulent due to the issue of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).