The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Assam Rifles in border build-up

Guwahati, Feb. 1: Assam Rifles will acquire new surveillance equipment for its units deployed on the porous Indo-Myanmar border, which has become one of the hotspots of militancy in the Northeast.

The director-general of the country’s oldest paramilitary force, Lt Gen. G.K. Duggal, today said the presence of troops along the Indo-Myanmar border —spanning the four states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram — was adequate at present. However, the Assam Rifles would still like to strengthen its presence along the border, he added.

Duggal disclosed that Assam Rifles units would soon replace the BSF at Moreh in Manipur.

On the decision to procure state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, the Assam Rifles official said it would add the cutting edge to operations along the Indo-Myanmar border. “The terrain is tough and the rate of success of operations is governed by the effectiveness of the communication network. Considering the constraints, our troops are doing a good job.”

The general said Assam Rifles officials would meet their counterparts from Myanmar at least twice a year. He said movement of people along the border was being constantly monitored as per the bilateral agreements between India and Myanmar.

Duggal, however, admitted that it was not easy to bust all camps set up by militant outfits along the Indo-Myanmar border and within Myanmarese territory. “We destroy one camp, but another comes up elsewhere. The trend will continue till militancy is brought to an end through political dialogue.”

The Assam Rifles chief said more battalions of the paramilitary force were being raised to replace the army in counter-insurgency operations in the Northeast.

Five new units of the Assam Rifles have been raised over the past year, increasing the number of battalions to 36. There are plans to add 10 more battalions to the list in the next two years. “During the second phase of this expansion process, spread over a period of six years, our strength will increase to 60 battalions. Youth of the Northeast will constitute 30 per cent of our troops,” Duggal said.

Additional Assam Rifles troops have been sought by Nagaland for the Assembly elections next month.

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