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Assam Rifles-Indo-Tibetan Border Police

  Jun 12, 2020

Assam Rifles-Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) Merger

How many Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) are there and under which Union Ministry do they fall?

The Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) are seven and come under the authority of Union Ministry of Home Affairs. They are the,

  • Border Security Force (BSF), 
  • Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), 
  • Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), 
  • Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP),
  • Assam Rifles (AR), 
  • National Security Guard (NSG) and 
  • Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB)

How do you describe their operations?

CAPFs work along with both Army & Police in different roles assigned to them.

CAPFs are organised with primary role of 

  • Border guarding for BSF, ITBP, SSB; 
  • Security of sensitive establishments by CISF, 
  • Assisting Police to tackle Law & Order, Counter Terrorist Operations, Counter Naxal Operations by CRPF. 

Apart from primary role, all CAPFs are involved in assisting Police in Law & Order situations and also Army in Counter Terrorist Operations. 

BSF & CRPF have assisted army during external aggression in the past. 

Which one of them is the largest and what does it do?

The Central Reserve Police Force is the largest of the Central Armed Police Forces. The Central Reserve Police includes:

  • The Rapid Action Force (RAF) trained to respond to sectarian violence.
  • The Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA), anti-Naxalite/COIN (counter insurgency) force.

What does Assam Rifles do?

The Assam Rifles is the oldest paramilitary force of India. It was formed under the British in 1835 called Cachar Levy. It fought under the British in World War I in Europe and Middle East as also in World War II in Myanmar (Burma theatre). It presently comprises 46 Battalions and has 80 per cent officers from the army. It operates under dual control.

It is administratively under the MHA, but operationally under the army. Over the years it has in conjunction with the army participated in operations, whether it be the 1962 war or as part of the IPKF in Sri Lanka. It has also been involved in counterinsurgency operations in the North East and is locally termed as ‘Friends of the North East.’ Presently, it is also responsible for securing the Indo- Myanmar border and some parts of the Arunachal border. It remains the only paramilitary force of the country, all others being Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).

What about the ITBP?

The ITBP, a CAPF, was raised in October 1962 for reorganizing the ‘frontier intelligence and security set up’ along the Indo-Tibetan border. From the initial four battalions, the force has 56 service battalions and four specialist battalions. It is deployed along the LAC with China.

The responsibility of ensuring security along the LoC with Pak and LAC with China, is that of the army, while the forces deployed at some places are the BSF or ITBP.

The ITBP has its own cadre at lower levels but the top is officered by the IPS, whereas the Assam Rifles top cadre is the army.

What is the plan for the merger and why?

The government is working on a plan to divest the Army of operational control over India’s oldest paramilitary force Assam Rifles, responsible for guarding Myanmar border, and is likely to merge it with ITBP, which guards borders along China. The objective is to resolve the “issue of dual control over Assam Rifles”

What are the grounds for criticism?

The cadre, ethos and roles are different and therefore the existing arrangement should be retained.