Mumbai: While the levels of insurgency in the Northeast India declined in the past five years, the movement of contraband and smuggled goods saw a rise, Director General Assam Rifles Lt Gen Pradeep Chandran Nair said.

Last year, the Assam Rifles confiscated contraband worth Rs 876 crore, a 61 percent jump from 2019 when contraband worth Rs 544 crore was seized, Lt Gen Nair said.

This year the figure is already Rs 751 crore as of July 31, he said. What is startling is that the rise in smuggling of contraband has occurred despite coronavirus pandemic, he added.

He dwelt on the challenges faced by Assam Rifles on border management and tackling insurgency in Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam while addressing officers of the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington in Tamil Nadu recently.

Lt Gen Nair spoke on the current security situation in the North East and the role of Assam Rifles, which has been at the forefront of all anti-militancy operations.

In May 1944, when the Japanese swept through Burma (now Myanmar) and moved into Manipur and Nagaland, it was an Assam Rifles Battalion (3 Assam Rifles) that held the Japanese in their tracks and delayed their advance through Kohima for two and a half days, he said.

Those two and a half days proved crucial to the allied forces to push reinforcements into Kohima and beat back the Japanese, eventually making the Battle of Kohima the turning point of World War II, he said.

There are multiple challenges that Assam Rifles face like difficult terrain, lack of police stations along the Indo-Myanmar border, lack of police powers to the Assam Rifles (it is the only border guarding force without police powers), ethnic loyalties, open border etc, he said.

The current situation in Myanmar is also likely to pose further challenges, he said. The Assam Rifles is facing these challenges by the use of technology, dynamic deployment of forces, upgrade in weapons and equipment, besides facilitating the socio-economic upliftment of the people of remote areas of the North East, he said.

The nearly 55,000-strong Assam Rifles has been guarding India”s 1,640-km long border with Myanmar and also parts of the Arunachal Pradesh border opposite China during the war under operational control of the Indian Army.

The Assam Rifles, which was raised in 1835, has also been carrying out counter-insurgency operations in militancy-infested states in the North-Eastern region. PTI VT

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