THE ASSAM RIFLES: SENTINALS OF THE NORTH-EAST
The history of the Assam Rifles dates back to 1835 when the Cachar Levy with about 750 men was raised to counter the tribal raids frequently launched on the plains of Assam. Subsequently, the Force underwent a number of titular changes. It was in 1870 that the various existing elements of the Force were formed into three Assam Military Police battalions, allocated territorially for Naga Hills, Lushai Hills and Lakhimpur. These three battalions of the Assam Rifles Military Police were ultimately converted to the 3rd, 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Assam Rifles respectively. A fourth battalion of the Assam Rifles Military Police was raised in 1915 at Imphal, which today is the 4th Assam Rifles.
During the First World War the personnel of the four Assam Military Police battalions saw action in France, Egypt, East Africa, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Gallipoli, North Persia and the North West Frontier of India. In recognition of their outstanding performance and excellent services the Government of India redesignated these units in October 1917 as The Assam Rifles.
The history of the Assam Rifles is entwined with the history of growth and development of the tribal area of erstwhile Assam. Though a para military force, the Assam Rifles has always functioned in close conjunction with the civil administration for over a century. The force extends all forms of aid to the civil population in the development of the region while fulfilling its primary role of watch and ward. Its multifarious activities engulf road construction extension of medical assistance, spreading literacy, running fair price shops, assistance in agriculture, house construction and provision of vital radio communications in remote areas for the civil administration. Rightfully, therefore the Force has earned for itself a befitting name of "Friends of the hill people" by its civic work.
The achievements of the Assam Rifles in the pre-Independence and post-Independence periods are striking and praise worthy. 84 honours and awards bestowed on the officers and men, during the period before Independence, comprise a number of Indian Distinguished Service Medal, King’s Police Medal, Companion of the British Empire, Member of the British Empire, Military Cross and Military Medal. The Post-Independence tally of awards consisting of 3 Ashok Chakra, 22 Kirti Chakra, 4 Ati Vishist Seva Medal, 5 Vir Chakra, 71 Shaurya Chakra, 39 Sena Medal and 26 Vishist Seva Medal is equally glamorous and remains unrivalled. Three coveted Ashok Chakra-the highest gallantry award during peace is indeed a rare distinction.
The growing threats and dangers confronting national security and integrity after independence, posed new challenges for the Assam Rifles calling for a major reorganisation and expansion to meet the growing demands of counter insurgency and border vigilance in the disturbed North Eastern Region. The Force today is headed by a Director General with his Headquarters at Shillong, and consists of five Range Headquarters and 21 Battalions spread over the North Eastern Region.
Stamp design: North-Eastern Region of the country along with soldiers of the Assam Rifles in their uniforms of 1835 and 1985.
Date of Issue: 29.3.1985