What is the difference between the Rashtriya Rifles and Para SF of the Indian Army?

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Rashtriya Rifles is a specialized organisation within the Army which is responsible for handling the bulk of Counter-Insurgency/Counter-Terrorism Operations in Kashmir drawing its manpower from regular Infantry and other Army Battalions where Jawans, Officers, JCO from all spheres of the Army serve for a fixed time in Rashtriya Rifles under deputation.

Para SF on the other hand are the Special Forces unit of Indian Army responsible for undertaking clandestine jobs, direct action, COIN and Counter Terrorism Operations, Recce Jobs and Special Operations. They are attached to Parachute Regiment of Indian Army.

Rashtriya Rifles, though specialized in their job cannot be equated to Para SF who are “Special Forces” and are called in for Special purposes and jobs. During CI/CT Operations in Kashmir, both the forces coordinate with each other during operations to take down terrorists and high value targets.

The concept of Rashtriya Rifles which arrived in 1988 came as a shot in the arm for Indian Army Infantry who were pushed into CI/CT Ops to battle the situation in Kashmir which was going grave. Taking lessons from their conflicts in Sri Lanka, a specialized Quick Reaction Force was realized as the need of the time and hence Rashtriya Rifles were formed. RR relieved Indian Army Infantry from general internal security duties who were getting eroded due to their excessive use in such roles. RR was the need of that time and even today where a dedicated force (comprising of men from Infantry and men from other roles as secondary support) can battle terrorists and militants in Kashmir.

The concept of Para SF (earlier known as Para Cdo) was formed in 1965 as an elite commando wing who can undertake specialized operations behind enemy lines like direct action, cross border raids and direct action. Formed by Lt.Col Megh Singh and known as Meghdoot Force, it was later designated 9 Para and placed under Parachute Regiment. Later, 10 Para splitted from 9 Para. 1 Para was later formed as a tactical reserve with other units like 21 Para SF, 4 Para SF, 2 Para SF and 3 Para SF later after 1990s. Para SF was earlier seen as an ‘Elite Infantry’ until 1980s when the Operation Pawan showed India, what Special Forces are capable off. The lessons from Sri Lanka were carried onto Kashmir conflict where Para SF are used for Special purposes both in cover/overt roles.

You will find it interesting to note that even Parachute Regiment send its men to Rashtriya Rifles. 31 Rashtriya Rifles draws in men from Special Forces and Airborne unit of Parachute Regiment. Both RR and Para SF have significant interoperability between them which is required to operate and keep Indian interests forward in the hot-zone of Kashmir.
Operative from 31 RR