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Rashtriya Rifles – The tactical and strategic solution for Kashmir

Niranjan Bhombe

Soham Athavale

15 September 2022

"RR recruits’ men from Indian Army and Central Armed Police Forces on deputation. 60%....."

Rashtriya Rifles is a paramilitary force active in the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. It is a counter insurgency and counter terrorism force. Since its raising, RR (Rashtriya Rifles) has neutralised 7000+ terrorists and has taken innumerable surrenders. RR has always been proactive and efficient in its job of curbing the insurgencies and terrorism. Initially the army was restricted on the borders. Post 1980 large scale terrorist activities were witnessed. Due to this army was called in to curb these activities. For a decade it went on from 1980 to 1990. In early 1990 there was a surge in the activities. Seeing this a proposal was given to the then V.P.Singh government for a force to curb these activities by the Army. It was accepted and thus the formation of RR was started.

The then Chief of Army, General Rodrigues promised to give the 39th Infantry division and 6th Mountain division for Kashmir. The new incoming Chief of Army Staff General B.C.Joshi kept the promise of his predecessor. Gen Joshi had a vision. He knew that the tasks in Kashmir aren’t just anti-terror operations and that it is going to be a long-drawn battle. So, he wanted a dedicated force for Kashmir just like Assam rifles in the North East. RR was further fortified in 1994 by adding more battalions. The structure of RR is very interesting. RR recruits’ men from Indian Army and Central Armed Police Forces on deputation. 60% are deputed from Army and rest 40% from CAPF. This system proved advantageous during the course of time. Due to this the troops were in a rotation and even the CAPF personnel got combat experience. Since its formation prime aim of RR was to protect the country and end the insurgency in Kashmir.

Looking back at the history we know that the only way to end the insurgency is not only generating fear but also gaining the confidence of the locals. RR exactly followed the same. It followed two different types of approaches, The Tactical (Short term) and Strategic (Long term) approach.

The Tactical Approach (Short term)

In news and movies RR is depicted as a group of war mongering extremists who rape women and butcher people. In reality RR is a disciplined force. It has its own protocols to operate in the valley. RR maintains a wide intelligence network of its own, apart from the central agencies. This local Intelligence network gives Intel on movement of terrorists locally and over cross border. As mentioned above the unique method of deputing men from each regiment gives RR a versatile model. Plus all the troops including Central Armed Police Forces go through combat on a regular basis. The RR is divided into small division headquarters. These division headquarters are location based:

Romeo Force – Rajouri and Poonch

Delta Force – Doda

Victor Force – Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Budgam

Kilo Force – Kupwara, Baramulla and Srinagar

Uniform Force – Udhampur and Banihal

Due to such division the presence of RR even in the remotest part of Kashmir is possible. In the initial days 39th Infantry division and 6th Mountain Division was posted in Kashmir. Initial RR troops were trained by these two Elite and Highly combat experienced forces. Thus the foundation was rock solid. Rastriya Rifles since their foundation has an impressive track record. The average life of a terrorist in Kashmir is about a few months.

The Strategic Approach (Long Term)

This side of Rashtriya Rifles is never highlighted. The media portrays RR as war mongering extremists who rape women and butcher people. But it is not like that. Indian Army is the most professional army. The generals knew that the only way to end an insurgency is to gain confidence of the people. RR also follows the same footsteps. Rashtriya Rifles and its troops toil hard to connect with the people of valley. There are several ways that they exercise this. RR conducts free medical camps in Kashmir. They provide tuitions to students. We can verify this through results of various entrance exams. RR conducts career guidance sessions for the youth. During the Floods Indian Army was the one to respond first. Various programs are organised to connect with the locals. In one instance Chinar Corps commander organised a session for women. The session was to motivate the women to convince their children to drop weapons and surrender. RR conducts re establishing of the surrendered insurgents. Lance Naik Nazir Ahmed Wani is an example. He was a militant turned soldier who was awarded Ashok Chakra (Highest peace time gallantry award) posthumously. Indian Army also conducted empowering operations like “Operation Sadbhavana”.

In this overall social empowerment was targeted through areas like: Education, Infrastructure development, Health & sanitation, Women empowerment and Community development projects. Army started “Army Goodwill Schools” and “Udaan Schools for special children”. Army organises National Integration Tours for Kashmiri students. Under these The Kashmiri students are taken to other states to exchange the Indian culture. Army organised Nari Niketan centres to upskill women and eventually empower them. These are some examples. RR conducts a whole list of such initiatives to gain the confidence of the locals. And it is successful in its mission.

Though the primary role of RR is anti – terror operations but they still help locals a lot. It is like an iron fist in red velvet. This side of Army is never shown in mainstream media. But it has always protected the locals and worked for their welfare. It truly showcases the motto of the Bharatiya Army “Service before Self”. We have seen responses towards insurgency of various armed forces around the world. But this balanced response makes RR World’s Best Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism Force.


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