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For police forces formerly considered paramilitary forces, see: Central Armed Police Forces and State Armed Police Forces
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According to the official definition adopted in 2011, "Paramilitary Forces" refers to three organisations which assist the Indian Armed Forces particularly closely and are led by officers of the Indian Army or Indian Navy[citation needed]. They are:[1]

  • The Assam Rifles (AR) 50,000 personnel
    (led by Indian Army officers reporting to the Ministry of Home Affairs)
  • The Special Frontier Force (SFF) 10,000 personnel
    (led by Indian Army officers reporting to Indian Intelligence)
  • The Indian Coast Guard 10,000 personnel (29 stations)
    (usually led by Indian Navy officers and reporting to the Ministry of Defence).
  • According to : Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) ; Border Security Force (BSF) ; Indo Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) ; Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)

The term "paramilitary forces" was previously used to refer to a variety of armed services that aid the operations of the law enforcement agencies of India and the Indian Armed Forces. No single official definition existed, so the term normally included central armed police and often included state armed police.

In March 2011, at the request of the Indian Army, the Indian government authorized the Indian Army to provide definitive terminology. An extremely narrow definition of "paramilitary" was adopted which excluded services now known as the "Central Armed Police Forces" (CAPF)[1] (e.g. the Central Reserve Police Force) and services now known as the "State Armed Police Forces". The Indian government's new terminology does not necessarily coincide with the existing terminology of the states of India; for example, the state of Bihar calls its state armed police force "Military Police". It is not yet clear how (or whether) such discrepancies will be resolved.

The Rashtriya Rifles are not a paramilitary force but part of the Indian Army.

Former usage

Paramilitary Forces was a term previously used without strict definitions and could include not only the current three forces, any of the Central Armed Police Forces and State Armed Police Forces and other organisations such as the Home Guard.

In the absence of central government terminology, many forces adopted their own terminology. In addition to the use of the word "paramilitary", other terms included Central Police Organisations (CPO), Central Paramilitary Forces (CPMF or CPF), Paramilitary Forces (PMF), and Central Police Forces (CPF).(CISF)Central Industrial Security Force The Indian Army claimed the use of such terms was motivated by self-aggrandisement and using vague terms to avoid accountability. A very limited definition of "paramilitary" was therefore introduced on the army's initiative.

Assam Rifles

The Assam Rifles can trace their 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 before the name Assam Rifles was finally adopted in 1917.[2] 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[3] of Assam Rifles 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.[4] In times of war they can also be used as a combat force to secure rear areas if needed.

Special Frontier Force

File:Special Frontier Forces troops (Indian Army) training in jungle warfare.jpg

Special Frontier Force training

The Special Frontier Force (SFF) is a paramilitary unit of India. It was conceived in the post Sino-Indian war period as a guerrilla force composed mainly of Tibetan refugees whose main goal was to conduct covert operations behind Chinese lines in case of another war between the People's Republic of China and India.

Based in Chakrata, Uttarakhand, SFF is also known as the Establishment 22.[5][6] The force was put under the direct supervision of the Intelligence Bureau, and later, the Research and Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency.[7]

Indian Coast Guard

The Indian Coast Guard (Hindi: भारतीय तटरक्षक) (ICG) is a branch of the Indian Armed Forces. Its mission is the protection of India's maritime interests and maritime law enforcement with jurisdiction over both territorial and international waters.

ICG was formally established on 18 August 1978 as an armed force of the Union by the Coast Guard Act, 1978. It operates under the Department of Defence of the Union Ministry of Defence.[8]

The Coast Guard works in close cooperation with the Indian Navy, Department of Fisheries, Department of Revenue (Customs) and the Central and State police forces. The ICG is usually and currently headed by a naval officer of the rank of Vice-Admiral on deputation, although one of the Director Generals (the 16th), Prabhakaran Paleri, was a Naval officer[9] on permanent secondment to the Coast Guard. Subsequent Director Generals have again all been from the Indian Navy.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1
  2. 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. See Sharma 2008.
  3. See History of the Assam Rifles
  4. Sharma 2008.
  6. The SFF became more famous within the administration as the "Establishment 22" because its first Inspector General (IG) Major Gen. Sujan Singh, a Military Cross holder and a legendary figure in the British India Army. Singh commanded the 22nd Mountain Regiment during World War II in Europe and a Long Range Desert Squadron (LRDS) in north Africa.
  7. Bollywood Sargam - Special: Tibetan faujis in Bluestar

Further reading

External links

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