“The custodians of law and order, pioneers of every advance into the interiors, the guardians of our borders and, above all, the friends of the hill people. Modestly, without fuss, they have faced every possible hardship and difficulty, and thousands of villagers in the wildest areas think of them with affection and gratitude. May they long continue to provide the foundations of security and order in our border areas.” – Verrier Elwin.
The words of British national Verrier Elwin, a tribal activist and anthropologist describes what Assam Rifles is doing for the people of North East. Assam Rifles are the friends of North-East people in true sense and the force has played a key constructive role in Manipur by delicately balancing operational and non-operational obligations. The multitude of complexities which exist in the state required a deft and mature handling which the Assam Rifles has provided by its relentless security operations and people friendly initiatives.
On the eve of the raising day of Headquarters Inspector General Assam Rifles (South), also known as HQ IGAR(S) on 15 March 2013, it is appropriate to reflect on the past year and place the key achievements of the force in correct prospective. Post Assembly Elections in Manipur in January last year, IGAR(S) ensured stable security environment to the newly elected stable state government. The synergized efforts of the force kept the conglomerate of various Undergrounds at bay and provided the proud people of Manipur an opportunity to pursue various development, social, religious and cultural activities. When all seemed well, the enemies of peace perpetuated a series of violent IED blasts from July end last year. Though targeted at the security forces, most of these cowardly attacks harmed the common man on the street. IGAR(S) quickly reviewed the security threat and effectively countered the new threat with renewed vigor. The intelligence system was revitalised that led to large numbers of IEDs being neutralised besides recovery of huge quantity of explosive material. At present, the violence level has been brought to minimal level and we can now see a vibrant Manipur back on the streets.
With directions from the headquarters of IGAR(S) in mind, under command security forces have launched people friendly operations which have resulted in apprehension of militants, recovery of arms, ammunition and explosives without any human rights violation. Through proactive area domination, the national highways passing through Manipur have been made safer against any probable IED threat. The misguided youth, who had joined banned underground outfits, were motivated through incentives and employment opportunities to join the mainstream.
Apart from providing the sense of security to the people, IGAR(S) has also been instrumental in originating development and welfare activities in the state. Several sports competitions, sports coaching camps, sports items distribution functions and exhibition matches were organized by IGAR(S) for promotion of the sports. The 10 th Director General Assam Rifles Cup for Equestrian Championship was organized by IGAR(S) at the historic Imphal Polo Ground in January 2013 which witnessed the participation of top polo teams and horse riders of national and international fame. Moreh Football Cup, Bob Kakching Football Cup and IGAR(S) Football Championship were major ventures for promoting and encouraging the sport amongst the youth. Several club level tournaments/ matches were also organized regularly throughout the year for almost all the sports popular in the state.
Under the vision and patronage of Director General of Assam Rifles, the Assam Rifles Archery team (ARAT) was established in March 2005 with the sole aim to give required impetus to archery in Manipur by identifying, recruiting and training young guns in the sports. Lately, ARAT has done Manipur and Assam Rifles proud by winning laurels at regional and national meets. IGAR(S) through its career counseling programmes, distribution of stationary items to the talented but deprived students, prizes to the meritorious students and various educative interactions was able to mould the young minds into dreaming and achieving big. The numerous National Integration Tours to cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Dehradun, Amritsar etc which were organized by IGAR(S) provided the poor students from remotest corners of the state an opportunity to visit other parts of the country which gives them exposure, self confidence and motivation to do well in life. Computers, furniture and books were distributed to several schools in the state, which has benefitted thousands of students.
Several infrastructure development activities were also undertaken by IGAR(S) which includes welfare projects like construction of bus waiting sheds, additional classrooms in schools, water storage tanks, sports fields, public library and numerous similar projects as and when requested and needed by the local population. Several of solar lights were distributed to lighten up the parts of state where electricity department has not yet been able to provide continuous electricity. Free medical camps, blood donation camps, medical screening camps were also organized to meet the health aspirations of the locals. Health of livestock of the people was also taken care of through numerous veterinary camps organized from time to time. Health and hygiene awareness programs were conducted through qualified doctors to spread awareness amongst the masses for prevention and cure of common diseases.
Under the Go Green Drive, thousand of saplings of fruit trees, flowers and other medicinal herbs were planted all across the Manipur to celebrate the World Environment Day. IGAR(S) also participated in various drug and narcotics destruction drives organised in conjunction with the local police and civil administration to free the society of drug menace.
The Assam Rifles Stall was a centre point of attraction in the State Tourism festival ‘Sangai Festival’ organized in November 2012. All the major religious functions like Yaoshang, Ningol Chakouba Thobal Chongba, Kut, and Christmas were celebrated by the Assam Rifles persons with great zeal and enthusiasm. Last year, IGAR(S) has also initiated a series of youth interaction events under the umbrella of Partnership of Assam Rifles Towards North East Regional Students (PARTNERS) programme to open up to the youth of state and give them exposure to intermingle and organize intellectual events and interactive seminars in collaboration with the security forces. The PARTNERS programme is a unique project of IGAR(S) which is being run for providing necessary help, direction and guidance to the youth of the state.
In a short span of the last one decade, IGAR(S) has been able to establish itself in the hearts and minds of ethnic people of Manipur through its people friendly operations, genuine interest in welfare of the state and several people oriented goodwill schemes. On its 10th Raising Day on 15 March 2013, IGAR(S) once again reassures people of Manipur that it has been, it is and it will continue to work tirelessly towards the betterment and wellbeing of the Manipuri people. The force will live up to the people friendly motto of Assam Rifles and continue to serve people of Manipur through its earnest endeavors.