New Delhi: For the first time in the country's history, a special squad of women troops has been deployed deep inside jungles to undertake active and prolonged operations against Naxalites.
With the induction of these CRPF commandos in their trademark camouflaged 'Khaki' uniform, India has become one of those few countries to deploy women personnel in live combat situations in one of the most violent and high threat theatres of conflict.
The country's largest paramilitary force CRPF, top sources said, recently has sent two small squads of its women commandos to fight the red ultras shoulder-to-shoulder with their male colleagues by not only living at the ground locations but also carrying out patrols.
While one contingent is undertaking operations in the worst Naxal-affected area of Bastar in Chhattisgarh, the other has been based at an undisclosed location in Jharkhand.
Sources privy to the development said the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) deployed these two women contingents, of a 'platoon' (about 35 women in each) strength, after creating basic living facilities for them at its locations in these two Maoist violence affected states.
"This is for the first time that women have been deployed in active operations in a high-risk and sensitive area where contact with the enemy is regular and very dynamic. The squads were placed at two locations about a fortnight back and they have begun operating," a source said.
The exact location of these women squads is only known to a handful of commanders and personnel keeping in mind the early days of their induction, the sources said.
Officials say there are specific reasons and operational benefits for deploying these women personnel in LWE areas.
While they can interact with the local women folk which not only helps in gathering good intelligence, it also helps in bringing forces closer to the villagers. A similar model of has been found successful in West Bengal where the Naxal movement is at an all-time low.
"Women have an edge in such operations. Under the new blueprint prepared to tackle this most important internal security challenge, it was felt necessary to use the female strength as their presence not only results in making good friends for the force among the locals and tribal women but instances of human rights violations are also kept under check," the source said.
Officials working in the anti-Naxal operations grid said as the over 3-lakh personnel strong CRPF is the lead security force against these ultras, a plan to induct women personnel of the force was conceptualised in the middle of last year which has just been accomplished.
The Union Home Ministry cleared the CRPF proposal before these women personnel were deployed, they said.
According to the current policy, women officers or troops in defence or paramilitary forces are not inducted in those areas where they are likely to be exposed to direct line of fire by the enemy.
"This particular instance is an exception which is aimed to obtain specific results in Left Wing Extremism hit areas," they said.
After conducting some small drills and trainings for over an year with these women, it was finally decided a month back to deploy them full-time.
Their continuance in the area will be reviewed from time-to-time, they said.
The CRPF has deployed over 90,000 personnel (90 battalions) for these duties across Naxal violence affected states, of which the force considers Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand to be the toughest owing to their difficult terrain and harsh topography interspersed with jungles, hills and water bodies.
The force, which has the maximum number of women security personnel among all police and paramilitary forces, is also proposing to add 2,000 more women constables in the next five years which will bring the total strength of females in uniform in CRPF to 5,000 from the current 3,000.