Shillong, Mar 24 (UNI) The oldest paramilitary force in the country, Assam Rifles (AR) today got a new assignment on its 171st Raising Day--to reorient itself to meet new challenges in the wake of the Centre's 'Look East' policy.
Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil suggested that the AR was required to reorient itself to meet with the changed situation in the eastern sector of the country following the ambitious strategy.
''We have all along had traditional ties with the Western nations only. It is time for us to forge better and meaningful ties with the Eastern countries and the AR will have to re-orient itself to meet with the new reality, '' he said at a special ''Sainik Sammelan'' (Soldiers' Meet) to mark the 171st Raising Day of the ''Sentinels of the North East'' at the Assam Rifles headquarters here.
''With their vast natural and human resources, the Eastern countries are fast developing and India needs to foster better relations with them and extend co-operation in order to achieve balanced development in this part of the world, '' he added.
It was in this context that the AR will have to work under a different strategy to help the country build up strong relationship with the Eastern nations.
Stating that the Centre was working towards bridging the gap between the Assam Rifles and the Indian Army, he said a new bill to replace the archaic 1941 Assam Rifles Act had been introduced in Parliament.
It had been referred to a select committee, he said adding he was hopeful of it getting passed in the next session of Parliament.
The AR during times of peace was in fact much ahead of the regular army in terms of containing social unrest in the North East and also checking cross-border crimes, including narco-terrorism and illegal movement of arms, he observed.
Cautioning the AR personnel against the menace of HIV-AIDS and malaria, the Home Minister also emphasised on upholding human rights at all costs.
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