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Assam Rifles’ dual control structure:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

 

Context:

Following the recent incident in Nagaland, Assam Rifles, which has the responsibility of the area where the incident occurred, has issued a statement expressing regret over the loss of innocent lives. It also informed that the Indian Army had instituted an inquiry into the incident.

 

What is Assam Rifles?

Assam Rifles is one of the six central armed police forces (CAPFs) under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The other forces being the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Border Security Force (BSF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).

  • It is tasked with the maintenance of law and order in the North East along with the Indian Army and also guards the Indo-Myanmar border in the region.

 

How is it unique?

It is the only paramilitary force with a dual control structure. While the administrative control of the force is with the MHA, its operational control is with the Indian Army, which is under the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

  • This means that salaries and infrastructure for the force is provided by the MHA, but the deployment, posting, transfer and deputation of the personnel is decided by the Army.
  • All its senior ranks, from DG to IG and sector headquarters are manned by officers from the Army. The force is commanded by Lieutenant General from the Indian Army.

 

What’s the issue now?

The force is the only central paramilitary force (CPMF) in real sense as its operational duties and regimentation are on the lines of the Indian Army. However, being a Central Armed Police force under MHA, its recruitment, perks, promotion of its personnel and retirement policies are governed according to the rules framed by the MHA for CAPFs.

  • This has created two sets of demands from both within the Assam Rifles and by MoD and MHA for singular control over the force by one ministry.

Why there is a demand for Assam Rifles to be placed under the MoD?

A large section within the force wants to be under the administrative control of the MoD, as that would mean better perks and retirement benefits which are far higher compared to CAPFs under MHA. However, Army personnel also retire early, at 35, while the retirement age in CAPF is 60 years.

  • Also, CAPF officers have recently been granted non-functional financial upgradation (NFFU) to at least financially address the issue of stagnation in their careers due to lack of avenues for promotion. But Army personnel also get one rank one pension which is not available to CAPFs.

 

Why do both MHA and MoD want full control?

MHA’s arguments:

  • MHA has argued that all the border guarding forces are under the operational control of the ministry and so Assam Rifles coming under MHA will give border guarding a comprehensive and integrated approach.
  • MHA sources also say that Assam Rifles continues to function on the pattern set during the 1960s and the ministry would want to make guarding of the Indo-Myanmar border on the lines of other CAPFs.

 

Army’s arguments:

  • The Army is of the opinion that the Assam Rifles has worked well in coordination with Army and frees up the armed forces from many of its responsibilities to focus on its core strengths.
  • It has also argued that Assam Rifles was always a military force and not a police force and has been built like that. It has argued that giving the control of the force to MHA or merging it with any other CAPF will confuse the force and jeopardise national security.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that Assam Rifles is the oldest paramilitary force raised way back in 1835 in British India with just 750 men?

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Assam Rifles- formation.
  2. Administrative control of the force is under?
  3. Who has the operational control?
  4. Functions.

Mains Link:

Discuss the key mandate carried out by Assam rifles. What are the issues and concerns surrounding the dual control of the same?

Sources: Indian Express.