The Assam Police is reported to have launched a specialized force called Assam Police Rangers to launch specific operations against militants. The personnel of the Rangers include about 120 policemen specially trained in counter-insurgency operations, and they are deployed in insurgency affected areas of Assam. The Assam Police Rangers is understood to have been formed with personnel drawn from various battalions of the Assam Police, and the raising of this force is said to have already yielded the desired results considering the recent successful operations launched against insurgents. The personnel of the Rangers were also involved in the recent operation against Maoist rebels in the Sadiya area of Tinsukia district. Meanwhile, the task force created by the Assam government for dealing with Maoists is planning to visit some other States such as Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh, where the Maoists have strong bases, in order to study the problem. The Assam Police has also hired more than 30 ex-army personnel for giving special training to Assam Police personnel in the handling of modern weapons.
The creation of the Assam police Rangers is indeed heartening news, especially in the context of the government’s decision to provide modern weaponss to policemen instead of expecting them to take on insurgents armed with AK-47s and AK-56s with nothing better than the old Lee Enfield bolt-action .303 rifles. During the last three decades, people have seen how terribly difficult it has been for policeman to take on militants far better armed than them. Policemen too have their fundamental right to life and cannot always be expected to plunge headlong into totally unequal contests in terms of weapons used. The obvious thing for the government to have done decades ago was to arm the police force with weapons as modern and sophisticated as those carried by militants. The failure to do this has radically debilitated the police force and seriously affected the outcomes of a large number of its encounters with militants and terrorist groups. Had the government taken the most obvious step of arming its police force adequately at the proper time, militancy and terrorism might have been brought under control in the State several years ago.
The formation of the Assam Police Rangers raises a question or two. Here is a case of a special force being raised to discharge responsibilities that the police force had not been able to carry out effectively over the years. There is another very visible area of responsibility where the police force has left a lot of work undone. For instance, the huge tracts of Assam’s territory taken by the Nagas forcibly in the Merapani area have not been defended as they should have been. As a result, the police force today faces a far more formidable task of having to reclaim lost territory. Obviously, this is a far more daunting task than the one of defending territory. Are we, therefore, to expect that the Assam Police would create yet another force to undertake the task of regaining the State’s territory from the Nagas? As for the task force created by the Assam government to deal with the Maoists, it has been directed to identify the reasons of the growth of Maoists, to identify the problem areas, the networking of the Maoists in Assam and the measures to be taken to deal with the problem. As anyone knows, the most outstanding reason for the emergence of outfits like the Maoists is a keen sense of resentment over the kind of social injustice that is visible all around. People will willingly suffer poverty, lack of development and deprivation if the situation is the same all over the country. It is in the glaring disparities that one sees the most glaring instances of social injustice. Besides, there is also large-scale use of black money to finance militant, insurgent and terrorist outfits all over the country. The day the government makes up its mind to give the nation a list of all those people who have put their black money in foreign banks, in gold hoards, in real estate apart from investing in destabilising outfits like the Maoists groups, many of the present problems involving violence and law-breaking can be solved. But the government must have the political will to go in for this kind of major surgery to save the country even though many politicians may be involved. If it fails to take the most obvious steps, it will continue to reap as it has sown.