KANKER (CHHATTISGARH): Battling left-wing extremism for more than three decades, Chhattisgarh has deployed women commandos to take on Maoists in the virtual war zone of Bastar in the south of the state.
The women in camouflage are proving themselves no less than their male counterparts in discharging their duties in tough conditions.
The women, who are all from local police forces, have volunteered for the commando role. They are deployed in Maoist-affected areas after undergoing rigorous training for endurance, camping in the forest, carrying out retaliatory attacks, developing reflexes and becoming psychologically stronger.
The day usually starts early for the women commandos, at 5 am. They provide security at road construction sites, carry out combing and search operations, and assist other security forces. Gradually, they are being deployed in combat roles. Incidentally, the Maoists too use their women cadres to carry out attacks.
The women commandos look forward to greater participation in front line tasks. “We are into diversified roles now, from regular policing work to commandos. We get the feel of being warriors,” said Head Constable Mamta Sahu, who has been deployed to provide security for road construction works in the forested area of Marrapi in Kanker. Scores of women police officers can be seen along the roadside in Marrapi, some hard to spot in their green camouflage fatigues amid the greenery of the forest, carrying modern weapons and with small rucksacks on their shoulders.
Sapna Singh, who was locally recruited, said, “We are doing things that none of us ever imagined even in our dreams. We are eager to take on the Maoists from the front.”
Nearly 10 percent of the women commandos are married. “Family life has never been a hurdle for us. Rather, there is better coordination among the family members at home,” said Pushpa Kawde, adding that like her colleagues in the conflict zone, she does not fear death any more.
Being on the front line against the Maoist insurgents does not mean life is all grim and difficult for the women. When they meet, the commandos swap kitchen stories.
“So, what if we cannot spend much time at home? We are still judged as cooks in the kitchen,” one of them told The Sunday Standard. “Given the opportunity, women commandos are ready for front line risks, and as fit for combat roles as men. They have got their roles further expanded.
They are gradually injected into the tough field conditions. Their willingness and passion provide motivation to many personnel who are unprepared for such courageous roles, and inspire them,” said Vivekanand Sinha, Bastar zone Inspector General of Police.
Deputy Inspector General of Police R L Dangi said Chhattisgarh Police had opened up avenues for women commandos in combat-related jobs. Their key strength lie in enduring the physical and psychological rigours of various operations, Dangi added.