Assam Rifles, the unsung heroes

Manipur quake: They guard the porous Indo-Myanmar border

Assam Rifles, the unsung heroes

It was business as usual for a young junior commissioned officer (JCO) and his 10 troopers from the Alpha Company of 40 Assam Rifles on January 4.

They were tasked to conduct regular patrol in part of Manipur’s capital Imphal. At 4:35 am, the 6.8 earth quake struck. The patrol party also felt the jolt and soon regained their positions. Soon they noticed people from Dewlaland area of city running towards them, one of them informed the officer that a building has collapsed. The officer and his men rushed to the spot.

“We pulled out the people who were trapped inside the building through 3 feet gap. The locals helped us. Had we not reached in time, it would have been difficult for the civilians to rescue those who were trapped since they are not trained... we started evacuating others from the area,” said the young officer who did not wanted to be named. The earthquake claimed nine lives while injuring nearly 100 people. Over 35 were seriously injured.

The Assam Rifles, the oldest paramilitary force in the country, tasked to guard the porous Indo-Myanmar border and  conduct counter-insurgency operations, played the key role in being the first responders.

“A part of our task, our patrols were out in different parts of Imphal and rest of the state when the quake struck. Each of our patrol parties at once reported back to their base about the quake, they went into a recce in the areas of their perimeters of operation. Our medical units were alerted and quick reaction teams were sent out with basic equipment like ropes and drill machines and also first aid kits,” said another senior officer who oversaw the operation as part of the its Aid to Civic Authority initiative.

“All this while we have seen the quick reaction teams of the Assam Rifles reached a spot of militant attack and within seconds engage them in gun battle. On that day, within seconds, they cordoned off the damaged buildings and quickly shifted the victims to hospital,” said RK Ramesh Singh, who lives close to Dewlaland. Six columns consisting of 80 troopers were sent out to various parts of Imphal, the Commandant of 40 Assam Riles led the evacuation and cordoning of the Mother’s Market, BSNL office and other key buildings, Assam Rifles sources added.

“Our troops are expert in counter-insurgency, but we also impart them with short module courses in disaster management. We had also reached out when flashfloods hit Manipur last year,” the officer further added. In rural and remote belts, Assam Rifles men are carrying out civic action programme and providing essential items to the quake-hit people, living up to their motto — Friends of the Hill People.
 

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