Khasi, Jaintia, Garo army companies in offing

SHILLONG: The Indian Army will soon raise Khasi, Jaintia and Garo companies, in keeping with the concept of the Home and Hearth Territorial Army (TA) battalion, to recruit, train and employ youth from specified geographical areas to combat insurgents.

Meghalaya will be the fourth state in the northeast after Nagaland, Manipur and Assam to have such battalions. The exercise is also aimed at weaning away these youths from indulging in unlawful activities by gainfully employing them and making them "disciplined citizens".

The decision of the defence ministry to raise the companies comes in the wake of chief minister Mukul Sangma writing to Union defence minister A K Antony about the "chronic problem of militancy and insurgency which poses a serious threat to national security and integrity."

Pointing out that Home and Hearth formations, along with two battalions of Arunachal Scouts, have been sanctioned in several northeastern states, Sangma told the defence minister that Meghalaya's case was "equally genuine" and, therefore, needed to be considered on an "equal footing".

Specifying the "tribal composition" of the eight companies, a defence source said three each would be raised from amongst the Khasis and the Garos and two from the Jaintia community.

"The recruitment will be done from these tribes only and the battalion headquarters will have a mix of troops from all types," he said.

The eight companies would comprise approximately 110 ranks each, making a total of 14 officers, 40 junior commissioned officers and 1,012 jawans.