Home Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday called for removing "gender bias" against women in security forces and letting them hold the highest posts in security organisations.
"Women can do justice as well as men in every walk of life if they are properly trained, properly equipped and given the right opportunities," Chidambaram said while lauding the role of the Nagaland Police's women battalion deputed in the capital for security of market places during the the just-concluded Commonwealth Games.
Around 700 women of the 15th Nagaland Armed Police Battalion, trained for counter-insurgency operations in their state, were manning the Delhi markets during the event. It is a new battalion comprising 18 to 25-year-olds fresh out of police academy.
They were in the middle of their advanced weapons and tactics of jungle warfare training when they were ordered to travel from Dimapur to Delhi for one of their first assignments, said Commandant Meren Jamir.
Pleased with their "splendid" job, Chidambaram congratulated them at a special event, a day before they were to leave for their home state to resume their training of counter-insurgency operations.
"Women cannot perform certain duties is a myth," the home minister said.
He said that physical structure of women was "indeed different from that of men" and that an average man was physically stronger than an average woman.
"But they make up for that with certain other qualities like adaptability, resilience and at times, better judgment," the home minster said, as he admitted that the gender bias had existed for many years in the armed forces.
"It should be removed and women must be given the same opportunity that men have relating to every kind of security duty and to rise through the ranks to hold the highest posts in the security forces."
As the minister heaped praises on them, the small but gritty looking police women in brown camouflage caps and fatigues and shiny black boots listened in attention.
On Delhi streets, they were usually seen holding the huge .762 rifle.
This, their commandant, said was a "problem as it is too difficult for them to hold huge weapons" given their size.
"We want smaller versions like AK assault rifles for the mahila (women) battalion," Jamir asked the home minister.
Chidambaram, later speaking to reporters, said the government would "consider the demand".
"It is not a big problem. It can be sorted out. We are buying a number of AK rifles. We will see what model suits them," he said.