Dual Control In Assam Rifles

Assam rifles was come at centre of controversy following a botched-up operations that led to killing of 13 civilians in Nagaland.

About Assam Rifles

  • Assam Rifles is one of the 6 central armed police forces (CAPFs) under administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • Task: Maintenance of law & order in Northeast along with Indian Army and guard Indo-Myanmar border.
  • Other forces: Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).

Dual control structure of Assam Rifles

  • Assam Rifles 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).
  • Salaries and infrastructure for the force is provided by the MHA, but the deployment, posting, the Army decides transfer and deputation of the personnel of Army in the Assam Rifles.
  • All its senior ranks, from DG to IG and sector headquarters are staffed by officers from the Army.
  • Lieutenant General from the Indian Army command the force.
  • For other Central Armed Police Force under MHA, their recruitment, rewards, promotion of its personnel and retirement policies are governed according to the rules framed by the MHA for CAPFs. 

Demand for a Single Control Structure

  • Created two sets of demands from both within Assam Rifles and by MoD and MHA for singular control over the force by one ministry.
  • Assam Rifle wants to be under administrative control of MoD, as that would mean better rewards and retirement benefits which are far higher compared to CAPFs under MHA.
  • However, Army personnel retire early, at 35, while retirement age in CAPF is 60 years.CAPF officers have been granted non-functional financial upgradation (NFFU) to address the issue of stagnation at least financially in their careers due to lack of avenues for promotion.
  • However, Army personnel get one rank one pension which is not available to CAPFs. 

Both MHA and MOD Demand Single Control

  • Ministry of Home Affairs Argument: All border guarding forces are under operational control of MHA. Thus, Assam Rifles coming under MHA will give border management a comprehensive and integrated approach. MHA would want to make guarding of Indo-Myanmar border on the lines of other CAPFs.
  • Ministry of Defence’s argument: Army has argued that Assam Rifles has worked well in coordination with Army and frees up armed forces to focus on its core strengths. Assam Rifles was always a military force and not a police force and has been built like that. Giving control of force to MHA or merging it with any other CAPF will confuse it and jeopardise security.
  • Indian Army has pushed for total control of Assam Rifles but also operational control over ITBP, which guards Sino-Indian border and is currently engaged in a standoff with Chinese PLA in eastern Ladakh.
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