In a first, the Indian Army has deployed women soldiers on combat duty near the Line of Control (LoC). Part of the Assam Rifles, they have been stationed in areas like Tangdhar, Uri, and Keran in Kashmir, along the LoC.
Confirming the news, an army officer said, “The Army moved in two sections of female soldiers of the Assam Rifles in the month of May. The deployment is at two different locations with a section each at one place. A section in the Army is of 10 soldiers. These are under the charge of a female officer of the Army. The Army had a long-standing demand of the female soldiers for security duties where gender sensitivities are involved”.
The women platoon is led by a third-generation military officer, Captain Gursimran Kaur of the Army Service Corps. They have been given the task of guarding the road that goes to the LoC. The duties also include security duties, sentry, manning check posts, frisking and guard duty. An officer commented saying “Deployed at security checkpoints leading to the LoC, the women soldiers are also being used for crowd control and frisking of women because there are intelligence inputs of weapons and drugs being smuggled across.”
Women have been a part of the Indian Army since the mid-90s but have not been allowed to join the armoured corps, mechanised infantry, artillery or the “fighting arms” of the infantry. However, since last year, the Army has started recruiting women as jawans or soldiers in the Corps of Military Police. They are at present, undergoing military training.
The army plans to take in around 800 women in the military police, which would involve 50 women joining in every year. This step has been taken in order to ensure that proper aid is given in probing criminal cases like molestation, rapes, and to maintain “good order and discipline” in military formation. Speaking on the issue, an officer said “A need was also felt for women soldiers in forward locations for frisking and other duties. Women police personnel are not always available in such areas. Till the women in CMP actually join service, we are using women soldiers of Assam Rifles for such duties.”
The Assam Rifles took to Twitter to state that they were “proud of deploying its Mahila soldiers along the Line of Control in Kashmir under the operational control and directions of Indian Army.” The term “rifle-woman” became an instant hit on social media, evoking slogans of nari shakti. It is a welcome move by the Indian Army, and one hopes they keep true to their promise and commitment of inducting more women officers in the years to come.
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