Srinagar, Dec 30: The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is considering training women personnel for their deployment during counter-insurgency operations for searches around gunfight scenes, etc in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), a top officer of the paramilitary force said on Friday. If implemented, this will be the first time in the history of insurgency in J&K.
CRPF inspector general (Srinagar sector) Charu Sinha said the idea was being discussed as they felt women often feel uncomfortable during the cordon and search operations by male-dominated security forces.
“Earlier somebody may not have thought about this but every day when we are out involved for [counter-insurgency] operations, we enter houses and there are Kashmiri women there… I realise that we cannot send [male personnel]. We do not want to offend their sensibilities. So, we thought what better way to handle it than bringing the women component.”
The CRPF is routinely involved in cordon and search operations along with police and the Army in Kashmir, which often lead to gunbattles.
Sinha said the CRPF’s operations have become more fine-tuned and technically sounder. “We have focused a lot on training…we are now stressing on our women component…”
Sinha said they want women to be comfortable during searches amid allegations of harassment during counter-insurgency operations. “We respect the sentiments of the locals…when we are dealing with the women population, we would like them to be comfortable.”
Sinha said it was being done on an experimentation basis. “…we have to see how they get trained.” She said their women personnel are very good, have a younger age profile, and are very enthusiastic and keen.
Sinha said as part of an experiment, they brought in a team that worked for about six months. “We trained it, put them in the field, and tested the level of interest and competence. We found they were very good and sincere and very hard-working. Now, based on that, we have decided to take this forward.”
Sinha said by March, women personnel should be on the field after four to six-week additional training. “We will introduce them into different operations and then we will see how it works out. They will get additional training here because this is a separate theatre.”
Sinha said the women component will be doing everything that their male colleagues do. “Their training is the same as men; so is their weaponry.”
The CRPF is also training its personnel in the local language and using shoe covers, etc while entering houses. “We understand that people are sensitive…obviously their sentiments get hurt. So we are showing that sensitivity.”
Sinha said the situation was changing and security forces have to acclimatize accordingly. “For us, we are here to handle the security keeping in mind public sensitivity. Hence we focus on soft skills.”
Sinha said there has been a decline in cases of stone-throwing. “Now few incidents happen. This year, there were few incidents, but those are not organised stone pelting incidents.”
She said when youths are led astray, they are convinced by an ideology that is destroying them. “That is why we have community outreach programmes to try and reach out to these very vulnerable youth. They get easily misled as they are at that age. We attempt to show them that the world is a bigger place and there are other alternatives…”
She said hybrid militancy was a matter of concern. “It is a challenge. Anybody who leads a normal life either as a student or as a working person but suddenly indulges in one [violent] act and then melts away again and does not come in a known network. It is definitely a challenge but police are working on it.”
The CRPF got its first woman inspector general in Srinagar in September 2020. Women paramilitary personnel are deployed currently at sensitive installations such as airports.