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Chhattisgarh lines up women commandos to battle Maoists in Bastar amid accusations of rape

The focus on all-female battalion comes amid accusations of male commandos sexually assaulting women as well as violating human rights while on missions to fight Maoists.

india Updated: Aug 05, 2017 07:28 IST
Ritesh Mishra
Ritesh Mishra
Hindustan Times, Raipur
Woman commandoes in a training session.(File Photo)

Chhattisgarh police have turned to 32 women to protect their reputation and also take the fight to Maoists lording over pockets of Bastar region.

The 32 are constables who underwent rigorous training as commandos in Bijapur district, about 422km south of state capital Raipur, in Bastar.

They will be the first batch of woman commandos of Chhattisgarh police to be deployed for operations in Bastar, where security forces have lost hundreds of personnel to Maoist ambushes and also faced accusations of rights violations, including sexual violence.

Incidentally, allegations of brutal rights violations in Bijapur district two years ago earned security forces the wrath of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The rights body stated in a report there was prima facie evidence that security forces raped and sexually assaulted 16 tribal women during a five-day operation in October 2015. The operation was reportedly carried out by state police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

“The primary motive for this women’s unit in Bastar is to protect the security forces from Maoist propaganda of rape charges,” DM Awasthi, Chhattisgarh’s special director general of police (Naxal operations), told HT.

“Bijapur will be the first district to have women commandos for anti-Maoist operations. Soon, such teams will be formed in all seven districts of Bastar,” he added.

Awasthi said many of the 32 commandos knew the local dialects of tribals and their presence will be reassuring for women of villages during operations.

Police insisted this was not a mere public relations exercise in the fight against Maoists, who are known for letting their women guerrillas lead reconnaissance missions and even ambush operations.

Sunderraj P, deputy inspector general of police, Bastar, said, “This is the first time state police will send women commandos inside jungles to fight Maoists and we are hoping for positive results. I believe it will strengthen our operations in Bastar.”

Though the women commandos for Bastar will be a novelty for the state police, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) stamped its presence in this respect in 2016 when it posted assistant commandant Usha Kiran in the Maoist hotbed.

First Published: Aug 05, 2017 07:28 IST