New Delhi: The paramilitary Assam Rifles proposes to construct over 100 helipads in northeastern states of the country for quick mobilisation of its
troopers along the 1,600-km Myanmar border even as it plans to raise 26 battalions to add to the existing 46.
"We have proposed the construction of over 100 helipads to the ministry of home affairs. These helipads would be constructed all over the northeastern states and help in quick mobilisation of troopers, dealing with medical emergencies and supplying rations," the Assam Rifles chief, Lt. General KS Yadava, said.
"We hope this proposal would be cleared by year-end. These helipads would be built along the India-Myanmar border because the terrain is very vast and difficult. It takes days to cover even a few kilometers. It would be to largely support the 26 additional battalions which we will be raising in the next 10 years for deployment along the 1,600- km India-Myanmar border," Yadava added.
He said three to four battalions would be raised every year. Infrastructure like roads will also be developed.
Noting that the helipads would be independent of those operated in the northeast by the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force, Yadava discounted suggestions that their construction was linked to countering the perceived threat from China.
"It has nothing to do with China. We are having it to reach our men sitting far out along the Myanmar border," he said.
Yadava said for transporting its troopers in helicopters, the Assam Rifles would seek the help of the paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF), which has an aviation wing and is the nodal organisation for providing aircraft and choppers to the other central paramilitary forces.
"At present, we do not feel the need of having our own choppers. We will think about it if the need arises in the future," he added.
Headquartered in Meghalaya capital Shillong, the Assam Rifles is deployed only in the northeast. It traces its roots to the Cachar Levy that was established by the British in 1835 to protect settlements against tribal raids and other assaults as British rule slowly moved towards the northeastern parts of India.
At present, the force has 46 battalions comprising 65,000 men. Fifteen battalions are deployed along the border and the rest are reserved for counter- insurgency operations.
The Assam Rifles is the only paramilitary force that relies solely on the Indian Army for its officer cadre. The other such forces have their own officer cadres and also take officers on deputation from the army and the Indian Police Service (IPS).