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Assam Rifles
Coat of arms of the Assam Rifles
Motto Sentinels of the North East
Agency overview
Formed 1835
Employees 63,747 Active Personnel[1]
Annual budget INR5548.74 (US$890 million)(2018–19 est.)[2]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency IN]]
Governing body Ministry of Home Affairs (India)
Constituting instrument Assam Rifles Act, 2006 & Rules 2010
General nature
  • Federal law enforcement
  • Civilian agency
Operational structure
Headquarters Shillong, India
Minister responsible Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister
Agency executive Lt Gen Sukhdeep Sangwan SM[3][4], Director General, Assam Rifles
Parent agency Paramilitary forces of India, Indian Army

The Assam Rifles is the oldest paramilitary force of India. The unit can trace its lineage back to a paramilitary police force that was formed under the British in 1835 called Cachar Levy. Since then the Assam Rifles have undergone a number of name changes—the Assam Frontier Police (1883), the Assam Military Police (1891) and Eastern Bengal and Assam Military Police (1913), before finally becoming the Assam Rifles in 1917.[5] Over the course of its history, the Assam Rifles and its predecessor units 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. In the post World War II period the Assam Rifles has expanded greatly as has its role. There are currently 46 battalions of Assam Rifles with a sanctioned strength of 63,747 personnel.[6][7] It is under the control of the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and they perform many roles including the provision of internal security under the control of the army through the conduct of counter insurgency and border security operations, provision of aid to the civil power in times of emergency, and the provision of communications, medical assistance and education in remote areas.[8] In times of war they can also be used as a combat force to secure rear areas if needed. Since 2002 it has been guarding the Indo–Myanmar barrier as per the government policy "one border one force".[9]


Early history

The present day Assam Rifles can trace its origins back to a paramilitary force known as Cachar Levy which was established by the British in 1835 in the Assam region. The Assam Rifles boast 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.[6]

File:Assam Rifles Jawan.jpeg

Assam Rifles jawan

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.[6] 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] The first non-British DG of Assam Rifles was Col. Sidhiman Rai, MC.

Since then the name of the force has undergone a number of changes, as have the roles that it has been required to perform. The current director general of Assam Rifles is Lt Gen Shokin Chauhan AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM.[10]

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.[6] These men performed with such distinction that the name Assam Rifles was assigned in 1917 as recognition of their part in the war.[6] 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.[6]

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.[6]

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.[6]

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.[8] 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.[6]

File:Assam rifles.png

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.[8] After independence, however, the Indian government assigned the Assam Rifles its own Director General.[6] 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 Ranbir Singh AVSM, SM, of the Bihar Regiment.[citation needed]

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.[8] 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.[6] 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.[6] In recognition of the unit's skill in counter insurgency operations, three battalions were deployed on Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka between December 1988 and February 1990.[8]

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.[6] 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 five battalions in 1947, the Assam Rifles has grown substantially over the years. In 1960 there were seventeen battalions, in 1968 there were twenty-one and today there are forty-six battalions.[8] 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.[11]


Members of the Assam Rifles have received the following military decorations since Indian independence:

Award Times awarded
Ashoka Chakra 4
Vir Chakra 5
Kirti Chakra 31
Shaurya Chakra 120
Param Vishisht Seva Medal 5
Ati Vishisht Seva Medal[12] 12
Sena Medal[13] 188
Vishisht Seva Medal[14] 74
Yudh Seva Medal 1
Mention in Dispatches 10


N.B. Prior to Indian independence members of the Assam Rifles were eligible for British decorations. During World War I and World War II members of the Assam Rifles received many such awards for their actions, although these have not been included here. There have also been numerous civil awards to members of the Assam Rifles. These can be found at the source listed above.

Director General Assam Rifles

The Director General Assam Rifles (DG AR) is the head of the Assam Rifles. The DG AR has their office in the Headquarters DGAR at Shillong. Appointed by the Government of India, the DG AR reports to the Minister of Home. The Director General is an Indian Army officer of the rank of Lieutenant General and is assisted by three Inspector Generals, each holding the rank of a Major General, and other senior officers heading various staff appointments. The Additional Director General of the Assam Rifles who is a Major General ranked officer serves as the second-in-command to the Director General.

List of DGAR

The first Director General post-Independence was Mr HG Bartly who assumed the appointment on 17 September 1947. First Indian Director General was Colonel Sidhiman Rai, MC appointed on 15 August 1948. The rank of officers holding the appointment of Director General Assam Rifles has been consistently upgraded from Colonel to Brigadier (1-Star General) to Major General (2-Star General) to Lieutenant General (3-Star General) now. Indian Army officers on deputation have been holding the appointment of Director General Assam Rifles till date. The current Director General Lt Gen Sukhdeep Sangwan as in May 2018, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM is the 20th DGAR. The list of Director General Assam Rifles till date is as follows.

No Name Appointment Date Till
1 Mr HG Bartly, CIE, IP 17 Sep 1947 14 Aug 1948
2 Colonel Sidhiman Rai, MC 15 Aug 1948 10 Dec 1949
3 Colonel RND Frier, MC 16 Dec 1949 29 Feb 1952
4 Brigadier K Bhagwati Singh, AVSM 01 Mar 1952 4 May 1954
5 Brigadier K S Katoch, MC 5 May 1954 29 Aug 1955
6 Brigadier Harbhajan Singh 07 Sep 1955 30 Nov 1957
7 Maj Gen AS Guraya 01 Feb 1958 14 Dec 1965
8 Maj Gen SN Bhatia 15 Dec 1965 15 Feb 1968
9 Maj Gen VB Tuli 20 Feb 1968 19 May 1972
10 Maj Gen MG Hazari, PVSM, AVSM 30 Mar 1973 29 Feb 1976
11 Maj Gen (Later Lt Gen) K Chiman Singh, PVSM 01 Mar 1976 25 Jun 1979
12 Lt Gen Sushil Kumar, PVSM 01 Sep 1979 02 Dec 1981
13 Lt Gen JK Puri, PVSM, AVSM 02 Dec 1981 29 Nov 1983
14 Lt Gen PE Menon, PVSM 30 Nov 1983 31 May 1987
15 Lt Gen MK Lahiri, PVSM 01 Jun 1987 21 Dec 1989
16 Lt Gen RV Kulkarni, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM 22 Feb 1990 09 Mar 1992
17 Lt Gen VP Airy, MVC 18 Mar 1992 31 Mar 1993
18 Lt Gen YM Bammi, ADC 15 Jul 1993 30 Apr 1995
19 Lt Gen TPS Rawat, PVSM, VSM 19 May 1995 30 Apr 1998
20 Lt Gen Gurpreet Singh, PVSM 1 May 1998 18 Jan 2001
21 Lt Gen GK Duggal, PVSM, AVSM, VrC 19 Jan 2001 18 Jan 2003
22 Lt Gen HS Kanwar, PVSM, AVSM, VSM 01 Mar 2003 30 Apr 2004
23 Lt Gen Bhopinder Singh, PVSM, AVSM, VSM 1 May 2004 30 Jun 2006
24 Lt Gen Paramjit Singh, PVSM, AVSM, VSM 06 Jul 2006 31 May 2008
25 Lt Gen KS Yadava, PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM 09 Jun 2008 30 Sep 2010
26 Lt Gen Rameshwar Roy, UVSM, AVSM, YSM 06 Dec 2010 22 Feb 2012
27 Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, PVSM, AVSM, SM 27 Aug 2012 31 Mar 2014
28 Lt Gen R K Rana, SM, VSM 26 May 2014 31 Aug 2015
29 Lt Gen H J S Sachdev, PVSM, AVSM, SM, ADC 01 Sep 2015 30 Sep 2016
30 Lt Gen Shokin Chauhan, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM 12 Dec 2016 31 Mar 2018

Rank Structure

Assam Rifles ranks Equivalent Army ranks
Director General (Army officer on deputation) Lieutenant General
Inspector General (Army officer on deputation) Major General
Deputy Inspector General (Army officer on deputation) Brigadier
Commandant (Army Officer on deputation) Colonel
Second in Command Lieutenant Colonel
Deputy Commandant Major
Assistant Commandant Captain

|[16] | [17][18][19][20][21][22]

See also



  1. "Archived copy". 
  3. "Lt Gen Sukhdeep Sangwan is the new Director General of Assam Rifles". 14 May 2018. 
  4. "Lt Gen Sukhdeep Sangwan takes over as DG of Assam Rifles". 14 May 2018. 
  5. See Sharma 2008.
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 See History of the Assam Rifles Archived 10 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. "MHA Annual Report 2016-2017". 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Sharma 2008.
  9. "One Border One Force?". 
  10. Bureau, News Mobile State (2016-12-14). "Lt. Gen Shokin Chauhan takes over as DG Assam Rifles - Newsmobile" (in en-US). Newsmobile. 
  11. See Assam Rifles Training Centre Archived 9 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine..
  12. 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.
  13. There have been four Bars awarded for the Sena Medal to members of the Assam Rifles. These are included in this figure.
  14. 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.
  15. (Source: Assam Rifles Honours and Awards Archived 6 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.).
  16. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 April 2012. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  17. "Archived copy". 
  18. [1] Archived 20 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. "Govt Agrees to 'Pay Hike Demand' for Lt Cols". Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  20. "Error Page". 
  21. [2] Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  22. "Updates on 6th CPC". Retrieved 12 February 2013. 


External links

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