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In a first, a special contingent of about 500 women CRPF personnel has been dispatched to Kashmir valley for regular security duties and tackle the unruly crowds and stone-pelters, including women.
The women personnel, largely in constable ranks, are based at Central Reserve Police Force recruit training centre in Humhama in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir and are being trained in counter-riot and anti-militancy operations.
“This is the newest theatre of operations where women personnel have been brought in. This is the maiden team of women personnel in the Kashmir valley. A few years back, the CRPF women troops were inducted into the anti-naxal operations grid in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand,” a senior officer of the paramilitary force was quoted as saying by PTI.
After a 45-day induction training and combat-stress inoculation, the women will be deployed in the valley to tackle stone-pelters and protesters, the officer said. He further said the decision to induct women was taken after it was found not feasible to bring in the special anti-riot wing of the paramilitary force – the RAF.
According to their training officer Manju K, the women personnel were now familiarising with the topography of the valley, Srinagar town and are being trained to handle “less-lethal” ammunition and weapons such as rubber bullets, pellet guns, pump-action guns and tear gas shells and PAVA shells, a chilli-based non-lethal munition.
They will also be armed with regular assault and lethal weapons such as the AK-series rifles and the INSAS so that in case of a terrorist attack they can retaliate, take the opponent down and defend themselves, the training officer said.
A fresh lot of body protectors and bullet-proof armour is also being procured for the special women squad inducted for operations in the valley for the first time, the officer said. “There are women personnel in regular CRPF and Rapid Action Force units in all parts of the country so why not in Kashmir? The women were inducted into these combat forces with the belief that they are as good as their male counterparts,” the officer said.
Mobile toilets and troop carriers are also being brought in to aid the female troopers, he said.
The CRPF, India’s largest paramilitary force with about 3 lakh personnel, has about 60 battalions deployed in Jammu and Kashmir for law and order and counter-militancy operations.
With PTI inputs