- Amit Kr. Yadav 08-04-2016
Women storm into male bastion.
After President Pranab Mukherjee announced that women will be allowed to occupy combat roles in Armed forces, the Assam Rifles has inducted the first women company in regiment. A batch of 212 new soldiers out of which 100 were women, was added to one of the most decorated regiments of Indian Army. For the first time Assam Rifles which has a history of 181 years inducted women soldiers into its ranks.
The 100 women have gone through a year-long training programme and graduated in the passing-out parade at the Assam Rifles Training Centre and School in Nagaland’s Shokhuvi. 27 trainees didn’t clear the program either on medical grounds or failed to clear basic tests.
Three lady army officers were specially posted to the Dimapur school in March 2014 to plan, raise and institutionalize a separate training company for women recruits
Union Minister of state for Home Affairs Kiran Rijiju inducted the soldiers. Addressing the gathering, Rijiju said that women are no less than men as they are also progressively contributing in all fields leading to development of the country.
The company has been named Lushai Company after a British era hill province that later became a district of undivided Assam and eventually the state of Mizoram.
Lushai Hills is intrinsic to AR’s history; the force’s first battalion, 1 Assam Rifles, was deployed there for more than a century from 1898 to 2003.
“The newly-inducted women soldiers will be posted to various battalions of the force and be used for frisking and interrogation of women when needed, dispersing female mobs, controlling crowd and tackling agitations involving women,” said regiments Director General Lt Gen HJS Sachdev.
They will also be employed for relief and rescue operations. Their inclusion will also play a crucial role in avoiding human rights violation and projecting a clean image of the force.
Assam Rifles Public Relation Officer Lt Col Rahul Josan said, “This maiden initiative of recruiting women as soldiers, who in the times to come shall form an integral part of the force, is certainly a noble Endeavour by the Assam Rifles towards women’s empowerment.”
Earlier, women serving in the Indian Armed forces were primarily in the Navy, Airforce and Paramilitary commands such as Military police, technical specialists (Control tower operators, radio/sonar operators, weapons command, pilots etc) and in all other non front line roles. The military police regiments comprised only of female soldiers that have been raised to be deployed in sensitive domestic and UNPK operations like the ones in Liberia where female soldiers are more necessary and useful when compared to male soldiers.
There were no active front-line regiments/battalions with female soldiers. This was primarily due to the extreme physical, hygiene and operation/deployment needs rather than discrimination in the selection process. India, which has one of the largest armies in the world, has previously resisted such a move, citing concerns over women's vulnerability if captured and over their physical and mental ability to cope with the stress of frontline deployments.