South Asia and Beyond

On Assam Rifles’ 189th Raising Day: East Of The Northeast—Replug

The Assam Rifles marks its 189th Raising Day on 24 March. On the occasion we replug our series ‘East of the Northeast’ aired first in May 2023. In our ground report, StratNews Global travels along the Burma border in eastern Arunachal Pradesh from Pangsau Pass to Vijaynagar. Firstly, in this episode, we fly on board the lifeline provided by the Chinooks of the Indian Air Force’s Mighty Talons 124 Helicopter Unit to one of India’s eastern most inhabited areas and Advanced Landing Grounds. En route and on location, Lt Gen P.C. Nair, Director General, Assam Rifles, Brig Swarn Singh, DIG, 25 Sector and Col Mohit Verma, Commandant, 19 Assam Rifles explain the strategic significance of how India discovered, secured and settled the critical Vijaynagar bowl.

Along The Burma Border In Arunachal Pradesh: Pangsau Pass To Vijaynagar

Our team of Amitabh P. Revi and Rohit Pandita travels to Dibrugarh, Lekhapani, Jairampur, Pangsau Pass, Jorhat, Chabua and Vijaynagar. We connect the dots of history to explain the critical importance of these little-known border areas. We also document the path-breaking Ledo or Stilwell road, the Pangsau Pass. And how NSCN and ULFA insurgents attacked the post there in the run-up to Independence Day in 2022. We also re-visit the Vijaynagar Bowl and the history of how two Assam Rifles expeditions, the second led by Brig (later) Major General) A.S.Guraya changed how history and geography are now, and how they fit into India’s ‘Act East’ policy.

“Insurgency Levels Down, Drug Smuggling Up; ₹ 810 Crore Of Trans-border Contraband Seized in 2023”
In our series, ‘Sentinels of the North East’, Lt Gen (Dr) P.C. Nair, Director General, Assam Rifles speaks exclusively to StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi in Jorhat. The DG discusses the role, capacities, capabilities, and challenges of India’s oldest paramilitary force. He explains the Assam Rifles’ roles: along the 1,643 km long India-Myanmar border, and in counter-insurgency.

Lt General Nair talks about the Assam Rifles response during the Manipur violence, the huge drug seizures from across the border, who is behind the upward trend in contraband smuggling, and illegal migration. Additionally, he also speaks about the general downward trend of insurgency, the role of external forces, the future role of the force he leads, the situation across the Burma border, the lessons learnt from the 2021 ambush killing in Manipur of Col Viplav Tripathi, his wife, minor son and four Assam Rifles’ personnel by insurgents, the mistaken identity killings in Mon, Nagaland and the fallout that the Assam Rifles have reversed, and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

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The Strategic Significance of Vijaynagar: Northeast’s ‘Siachen’
Lieutenant General P.C. Nair, Director General, Assam Rifles speaks to StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi in Vijaynagar, one of the easternmost inhabited areas in India.

The head of the oldest paramilitary organisation in the country flies on board an IAF Chinook helicopter with the SNG team of Amitabh P. Revi and Rohit Pandita to Vijaynagar. Additionally, explains the strategic significance of the salient on the India-Myanmar border, pointing out, “everyone knows what happened in Siachen where we preempted the Pakistanis by twenty-four hours (with later) General Sanjay Kulkarni, then company commander. Here (later) General Guraya’s party preempted the Chinese by about a week.

So a week later if we were not here, not only the Chinese but also Kachin rebels, who are being tutored by the Chinese or a mix of both would have been here. Finally, today, we wouldn’t have been here if Gen Guraya’s party hadn’t reached here in December 1961.” Lt Gen Nair adds, “why this 730 square kilometers is very important is, from this you get an approach to the southern banks of Brahmaputra. What that means is from here, you would head straight to Dibrugarh, Jorhat and onwards to Guwahati. There is absolutely no need of crossing the Brahmaputra. So just imagine a scene where you have troops deployed along the northern borders, along the higher reaches of Arunachal. But, what if, right behind on the southern bank, somebody just comes in, so there lies the significance of this.”

Amitabh P. Revi

Russian language speaker and conflict journalist. Amitabh Revi has been there, done that—from the battlefields of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to sublime Russia, Australia and the United States. Along the way he's picked up the Dag Hammarskjöld Distinguished Journalist Fellowship, the Ramnath Goenka award for coverage of the Iraq War and RT's Khaled Alkhateb Award for his reporting from Palmyra, Syria.