New Delhi: In a major step aimed to empower women in `khaki`, the government for the first time has given its nod for recruitment and commissioning of women officers in a border guarding force-- the BSF.
Young women under and up to the age of 25 years will be recruited as direct entry officers in the rank of Assistant Commandants (ACs), and according to top sources in the Union Home Ministry, these officers will be posted to lead their troops along the two most crucial borders the BSF guards at present-- Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Till now, women could only don the combat uniform in the officer cadre in two other central security forces, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) which are tasked to carry out a variety of duties in the internal security domain and not along Indian frontiers as these forces are not mandated for border guarding duties.
"This is the first time that women will be commissioned as officers in a border guarding force. At a time when India has so many women troops in these forces there were no women combat commanders. However, having male officers was not a problem but deputing women as leaders surely sends the message that they are second to none and can do any task given to them," a senior security official said.
This first batch of women officers will be on ground by late next year and their recruitment will be completed by December, the official added.
Two other border guarding forces, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) also do not have women officers in combat roles although they have a good number of women personnel in their constabulary.
The Border Security Force had first inducted women constables for regular security duties in 2009 and at present it has about 700 such personnel. The force is also the second largest paramilitary of the country with two lakh personnel in its ranks.
The government will recruit a total of 110 fresh officers in BSF this year while sanction has been given to induct 138 such ranks in the CRPF and 56 in CISF. There is no cap on the number of women taking up these posts as the selection is based on merit under the recruitment exam conducted by the UPSC.
After being recruited and commissioned as ACs, these women officers can rise and get promotions to become Deputy Commandants and Commandants of an operational company (about 100 personnel) or a full battalion (approximately 1,000 personnel) in the BSF.