MHA, MoD leave it to CCS to take final call on dual control over Assam Rifles
Assam Riffles, the 184-year-old paramilitary force of the country, is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) while the operational control lies with the Ministry of Defence.
In an affidavit filed to the Delhi High Court, the MHA has conveyed that the Union Home Secretary had held a meeting with the Defence Secretary on April 4 to discuss the issue.
Assam Riffles, the 184-year-old paramilitary force of the country, is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) while the operational control lies with the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The meeting discussed about a note moved by the MHA for the CCS on March 20 for resolving the issue of dual control over Assam Rifles.
The CCS is chaired by the Prime Minister and comprises the Minister of External Affairs, the Home minister, the Finance minister and the Defence minister.
It was decided by both MHA and MoD that they will abide by the decision of the CCS, the MHA told the high court in its affidavit.
The court is now learnt to have issued a notice to the Cabinet Secretary to inform it as to what decision the CCS had taken on the note forwarded to it by the MHA, an official said.
The court was hearing a petition filed by the Assam Rifles Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association through lawyer Neha Rathi on the difficulties faced by the retired personnel of the force with regard to the payment of pension due to the dual control of the force.
The Assam Rifles came into being in 1835 as a militia called the 'Cachar Levy'. With approximately 750 men, this force was formed to primarily protect British tea estates and their settlements against tribal raids.
Subsequently, all these forces were reorganised and renamed as the 'Frontier Force' as their role was increased to conduct of punitive expeditions across the borders of undivided Assam.
This force significantly contributed in opening the region to administration and commerce and over time it came to be known as the "right arm of the civil and left arm of the military".
It sent over 3,000 men as part of the British Army to Europe and the Middle East. In 1917, recognising their work during the Great War, fighting shoulder to shoulder with Rifle Regiments of the regular British Army, the name of the force was changed to 'Assam Rifles'.
The post-independence role of the Assam Rifles continued to evolve, ranging from conventional combat role during the Sino-India War 1962, operating in foreign land as part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka in 1987 (Operation Pawan) to peacekeeping role in the North-Eastern areas of India in the face of growing tribal unrest and insurgency wherein the maintenance of law and order, countering insurgency and reassuring the people of the region became important tasks for the Assam Rifles.
Now, the Assam Rifles remains deployed in some of the most remote areas in the Northeast and provides security to the locals. The force has grown substantially over the years from 17 battalions in 1960 to 46 battalions with about 46,000 personnel at present.