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Assam Rifles ( INDIAN ARMY)
Insignia of the Assam Rifles
Flag of the Assam Rifles
MottoSentinels of the North East
Agency overview
Employees65,143 Active Personnel[1]
Annual budget6,658.41 crore (US$873.8 million) (2022-23)[2]
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agencyIN
Operations jurisdictionIN
Governing body
Indian Army
Constituting instrument
  • Assam Rifles Act, 2006 & Rules 2010
General nature
Operational structure
HeadquartersShillong, Meghalaya , India
Ministers responsible
Agency executive
Parent agency
Indian Army
1985 postage stamp
1985 postage stamp

The Assam Rifles is the oldest branch of the Indian Army, dating back to 1835 under the British Raj, raised under the name Cachar Levy. The present name of "Assam Rifles" has been used since 1917.[4] Similar to the Rashtriya Rifles in Jammu and Kashmir, in the Northeastern States the Assam Rifles is the specialised force that carries out anti-insurgency operations in difficult terrain of the region.[5] Over the course of its history, the Assam Rifles have served in a number of roles, conflicts and theatres including World War I, where they served in Europe and the Middle East, and World War II, where they served mainly in Burma. After the Chinese annexation of Tibet, the Assam Rifles were tasked with manning the Tibetan border of Assam Himalayan region. They were also instrumental in maintaining law and order in Arunachal Pradesh.

It is a branch of the Indian Army, which is under the Ministry of Defence (MoD). This means that salaries and infrastructure for the force is provided by the MoD, but the deployment, posting, transfer and deputation of the personnel is decided by the Indian Army. All its senior ranks, from LG to MG and sector headquarters are manned by officers from the Indian Army. The force is commanded by a Lieutenant General of the Indian Army.

The Assam Rifles is under the control of Indian Army of the Ministry of Defence. The operational control is held with Ministry of Defence.[6] There are currently 46 battalions of Assam Rifles with a sanctioned strength of 65,143 personnel.[7][8] They perform many roles including the provision of internal security under the control of the army through the conduct of counterinsurgency and border security operations, provision of aid to the civilians in times of emergency, and the provision of communications, medical assistance and education in remote areas.[9] In times of war they can also be used as a combat force to secure rear areas if needed. Since 2002 the force has been given the role of guarding the India–Myanmar border.[10]


Early history

The present day Assam Rifles can trace its origins to a paramilitary force known as Cachar Levy which was established by the British in 1835 in the Assam region. The Assam Rifles boasts of being the oldest paramilitary force. With approximately seven hundred and fifty men, this force was formed as a police unit to protect settlements against tribal raids and other assaults as British rule slowly moved towards the north east parts of India.[7]

Despite problems with equipment and training, the contribution of this force in opening the region to administration and commerce was nevertheless quite significant and over time they have become known as the "right arm of the civil and [the] left arm of the military" in the region.[7] In 1870 these existing elements were merged into three Assam Military Police battalions which were spread out in the Lushai Hills (later 1st battalion), Lakhimpur (2nd battalion) and Naga Hills (3rd battalion). A fourth battalion was later formed Imphal in 1915.[citation needed] Following India's independence, Col. Sidhiman Rai, MC, was appointed the first Indian DG of Assam Rifles.

Since then the name of the force has undergone a number of changes, as have the roles that it has been required to perform.

World War I and Interwar years

During World War I, men from what was then known as the Assam Military Police were part of the Indian forces that fought in Europe and the Middle East. Over three thousand men from the force were provided to the Gorkha regiments of the Indian Army in this time, earning seventy-six gallantry awards during the conflict including seven Indian Order of Merit awards and five Indian Distinguished Service Medals.[7] These men performed with such distinction that the name Assam Rifles was assigned in 1917 as recognition of their part in the war.[7] Elements of the force were also utilised in India during the war, being used to maintain internal security in order to free up troops from the army for use overseas. During this time, the most notable action occurred in 1917 when columns of the Assam Rifles were despatched to Patna, to restore law and order in the riot-torn city.[7]

After the war the force returned to northern India where they were used to maintain security amidst growing civil unrest and disorder. In concert with the British Indian Army, they also undertook a number of expeditions into remote tribal areas along the north-east frontier and into Burma. In 1924 they were sent to Malabar, which was then still part of the Madras Presidency, to carry out operations against the Mopla rebels.[7]

World War II

During World War II, the role of the Assam Rifles evolved once more as they were called upon to undertake even more varied tasks due to their status as both a police and military organisation. This time, however, their service would be undertaken closer to home. After the lightning Japanese advance in 1942, the Assam Rifles fought a number of Independent actions behind enemy lines as the task of rear-area defence and rear-guard often fell to them during the Allies retreat into India. Later, as a large influx of refugees fled from the advancing Japanese into India, the Assam Rifles were given the task of managing and organising this mass of humanity.[7]

They also organized a resistance group on the Indo–Burmese border to counter the Japanese invasion and to harass the enemy line of communications. This group became known as "Victor Force" (or sometimes V-Force), and the nucleus of it was formed from platoons made up of men from the Assam Rifles. As part of this force, Assam Rifles platoons were used as covering forces during the latter stages of the Burma Campaign. Other elements fought in the defensive "boxes" around Kohima, whilst another, from the 4th Battalion, trained as airborne troops, was dropped near the Sittang River behind Japanese lines.[9] The 1st Battalion, as part of Lushai Brigade was sent ahead of the rest of the force to provide resistance in the Chin Hills. As a testament to the performance of Assam Rifles men during the war, members of the unit received forty-eight gallantry awards. These included: three MBE's, five Military Crosses, 4 Orders of British India, one Indian Order of Merit, 13 Military Medals, 15 Indian Distinguished Service Medals and 7 British Empire Medals.[7]

Assam Rifles personnel
Assam Rifles personnel

Postwar period

Following the end of the war the five Assam Rifles battalions became part of the civil police under the Assam Inspector General of Police.[9] After independence, however, the Indian government assigned the Assam Rifles its own Director General, who is sent on tenure based postings from the Indian Army. Note: As per Ministry of Defence there is no deputation of Army Officers to Assam Rifles. [7] As the numbers of the force and the number of battalions gradually increased, the rank of the force commander was also upgraded until now it is that of Lieutenant General. The present Director General of the Assam Rifles is Lieutenant General Pradeep Chandran Nair, AVSM, YSM.[11]

Prior to 1965, this force was under the Ministry of External Affairs, who were looking after NEFA affairs. It was transferred to the Indian Army when the latter took over this responsibility. From a nominal complement of only five battalions in 1947, it has grown to 33 with several range HQs. A training center, and a number of logistics units function under the HQ LGAR, Shillong. The Assam Rifles is the only branch of Indian Army with its HQ not in New Delhi.[12] The Assam Rifles Public School is a much sought after education institute in the North East.

The role of the Assam Rifles continued to evolve when in 1950 a devastating earthquake hit the Assam region and the force was called in to assist in the reconstruction of the areas and help in the resettlement and rehabilitation of those affected by it.[9] Later the force was once again called to undertake a combat role when, during the 1962 Sino-Indian War elements were used to delay the advancing Chinese forces so that the Indian Army could establish its defence lines.[7] During this time and since then, the Assam Rifles also maintained their peacekeeping role in the northern areas of India in the face of growing tribal unrest and insurgency. In this environment the maintenance of law and order, countering insurgency and reassuring the people of the region became important tasks for the security forces and initially they fell to the Assam Rifles before the Army assumed control, and then later their experience and goodwill in the region was drawn upon in order to assist the army in conducting these tasks.[7] In recognition of the unit's skill in counterinsurgency operations, three battalions were deployed on Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka between December 1988 and February 1990.[9]

Through its deployment in what has become known as the "tribal belt", the Assam Rifles have developed an ethos that is based primarily upon the notion of extending the hand of friendship with the people of the region despite the troubles that have occurred there.[7] This has resulted in their employment in a number of developmental activities in the region as they have worked to bring order and security to it. As such, their role has been further expanded to include the provision of medical assistance and basic education, assisting in reconstruction and agriculture and handling communications in remote areas.[citation needed]

From a force of 5 battalions in 1947, the Assam Rifles has grown substantially over the years. In 1960 there were 17 battalions, in 1968 there were 21 and today there are 46 battalions.[9] In addition, the force has several area HQs, a training centre that processes up to 1,800 recruits at time, and a number of logistics units.[13]


The Assam Rifles comprises of a Lieutenant General Headquarter in Shillong, 3 Inspectorate General Headquarters, 12 Sector Headquarters, 46 Battalions, one Training Centre and administrative elements with a total authorized strength of 65,143 personnel.[14]

Organization structure

The Assam Rifles is commanded by an officer of the rank of Lieutenant General of the Army, who is known as the Director General of the Assam Rifles (DGAR). The DGAR has their office at the HQ Directorate General of Assam Rifle at Shillong. The Assam Rifles is the only branch of Indian Army whose HQ is not in New Delhi.[15]

HQ Inspectorate General of Assam Rifles comes next in chain of command after HQ DGAR. It is commanded by an officer of the rank of Major General from the Army and exercises command and control over the sector HQs.

Sector HQ
The Sector HQ are commanded by Army Officers of the rank of Brigadier from the Army. The Sector HQ exercises direct command and control over the Assam Rifles Battalions deployed in its area of responsibility.

Maintenance Group Assam Rifles (MGAR)
The Maintenance Groups located at various location provide the requisite administrative support to the Assam Rifles formations and battalions deployed in the field. The MGAR are commanded by officers of the rank of Lieutenant Colonel from the Army.

The workshop are co-located with the MGAR to provide repair and recovery cover to the field formations. These workshops further provide detachments to the Sector HQs to provide repair and recovery cover as far forward as possible to the battalions.

Areas covered

The areas covered by the Assam Rifle are themselves divided into sectors:


Members of the Assam Rifles have received the following military decorations[16] -

Pre - Independence Awards
Award Times awarded
Commander Of The Order Of British Empire (CBE) 1
Member Of The Order Of British Empire (MBE) 3
Companion of Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) 2
Indian Order Of Merit (IOM) 13
King's Police Medal (KPM) 11
Military Cross (MC) 5
Order Of British India (OBI) 6
Indian Distinguish Service Medal (IDSM) 31
Military Medal (MM) 25
British Empire Medal (BEM) 7
Mentioned In Dispatches 4
Post - Independence Awards
Award Times awarded
Ashoka Chakra 4
Param Vishisht Seva Medal 10
Kirti Chakra 33
Uttam Yudh Seva Medal 1
Ati Vishisht Seva Medal[17] 23
Vir Chakra 5
Shaurya Chakra[18] 147
Yudh Seva Medal 12
Sena Medal[19] 400
Vishisht Seva Medal[20] 97
Mentioned in dispatches 39

Director General Assam Rifles

Main article: Director General of the Assam Rifles

The Director General of the Assam Rifles (DGAR) is the head of the Assam Rifles. The DGAR has their office in the Headquarters LGAR at Shillong. Appointed by the Government of India, the DGAR reports to the Minister of Defence. The holder of this position is a union government defence servant of Indian Military Service of the rank of Lieutenant General. The position is currently held by Lieutenant General Pradeep Chandran Nair, AVSM, YSM**.

Rank structure

Rank group General/flag officers Field/senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
Assam Rifles[21][22]
Lieutenant general
लेफ्टिनेंट - जनरल
Major general
मेजर - जनरल
Lieutenant colonel
लेफ्टिनेंट - कर्नल
Enlisted ranks
Rank group Junior commissioned officers Non commissioned officer Enlisted
Assam Rifles
No insignia
Subedar Major Subedar Naib Subedar Havildar Naik Lance Naik Sepoy
सूबेदार मेजर सूबेदार नायब सूबेदार हवलदार नायक लांस नायक सिपाही

See also


  1. ^ "Annual Report Ministry of Home Affairs 2019-2020" (PDF). MHA. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
  2. ^ "Rs 1.85 lakh crore allocation to MHA in budget". The Economic Times. Retrieved 1 February 2022.
  3. ^ "Lt Gen Pradeep Chandran Nair takes over as DG of Assam Rifles - the Economic Times".
  4. ^ See Sharma 2008.
  5. ^ nios board military studies
  6. ^ Singh, Soibam Rocky (6 September 2020). "HC asks Centre to decide on control over Assam Rifles". The Hindu. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "History of the Assam Rifles". Archived from the original on 10 March 2009.
  8. ^ "Annual Report Ministry of Home Affairs 2019-2020" (PDF). MHA. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Sharma 2008.
  10. ^ "One Border One Force?".
  11. ^ "Lt Gen Sukhdeep Sangwan takes over as DG of Assam Rifles". NORTHEAST NOW.
  12. ^ "Organisation Structure". Assam Rifles. Retrieved 6 January 2022. Assam Rifles is a region specific force with its operational role in the North East and therefore the HQ DGAR is also located in the East. The HQs of all other branches of Indian Army are located at Delhi.
  13. ^ See Assam Rifles Training Centre Archived 9 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Annual Report Ministry of Home Affairs 2019-2020" (PDF). MHA. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
  15. ^ "Organization Structure". Assam Rifles. Retrieved 6 January 2022. Assam Rifles is a region specific force with its operational role in the North East and therefore the HQ LGAR is also located in the East. The HQs of all branches of Indian Army are located at Delhi.
  16. ^ "Honours & Awards". Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  17. ^ There has been one instance of a multiple award of the AVSM to the same recipient, that is a 'Bar' being awarded. This is included in this figure.
  18. ^ There has been one 'Bar' awarded for the Shaurya Chakra. This is included in this figure.
  19. ^ There have been six 'Bars' awarded for the Sena Medal to members of the Assam Rifles. These are included in this figure.
  20. ^ There has been one instance of a Bar being awarded for the VSM to a member of the Assam Rifles. This has been included in this figure.
  21. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 April 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2011.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "Updates on 6th CPC". Retrieved 12 February 2013.