Men have fought the battles against the Maoists for all these years, but now things have changed. Women in Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) are geared up and ready for combat, to replace their male counterparts.
Unfortunately, they have been waiting for eight months for the orders to come.
However, the Chief Minister of the state of West Bengal and the SP of the district seems to be delaying the deployment orders. There seems to be a certain restriction from their end to send women in the conflict regions of Jhargram and Lalgarh. A feeling of gender discrimination is filtering through the ranks of the two companies (E/232 (M) and F/232 (M) battalion) of the CRPF Mahila Battalion.
These women have been trained for 44 weeks in jungle warfare, unarmed combat and smart weapons firing. They have been trained to negotiate dense forests and rivers so that they are capable of tackling every obstacle that they may face while fighting Maoists. They have been deployed in the ‘company formation’ style, which means about 100 personnel at one time.
Locals have welcomed the troops as many of the locals feel that it is easier to talk to women freely and more openly. Those who have witnessed the power conflict, believe that women forces will be more beneficial in handling the locals.
This incident comes right after the Indian Army’s decision to include women in combat roles to counter the gender disparity in army ranks.
Bharati Ghosh, the SP of the district and close aide of Mamta Banerjee, had objected to the training of the company in the region in a letter. But she was assured that they would return after their training was complete. She had also questioned the deployment of the battalion and said that no order was issued and from now on, they will not be stationed without proper documents and orders.
The company and the battalion are led by female officers. Since October 2016, the officials have been saying that the highly trained companies are being underutilised. Various letters through the course time were written to the Chief Minister, the Home Secretary and the Director General of Police in West Bengal.
Anuj Sharma, ADG, law and order, West Bengal told The Economic Times, “There were some issues. But will be sorted out soon.”
However, till the time this issue is not solved, the companies are posted in Purulia. The CRPF administration is to yet to get a written communication on this decision.
Pic Credit: India Today
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Jagriti is an intern with SheThePeople.TV