New Delhi: In a first, the Chhattisgarh police have recruited as many as 20 surrendered Maoists, all women, into a commando unit in the Dantewada region of Bastar.

The platoon of the district reserve guard (DRG) called the ‘Danteshwari Ladake’ or the fighters of Goddess Danteshwari has been stationed nearly 400 km from Raipur. A senior official said these women commandos were part of the security forces’ “short action teams” that eliminated three Naxal “commanders” in the past one month.

With the induction of the women commando contingent, the number of platoons of the DRG in Dantewada now stands at six.

Personnel of the DRG are recruited from local youth and it also has surrendered Naxals in its ranks and has of late gained a fearsome reputation for taking the fight into the enemy camp and conducting successful strikes in Maoist strongholds, officials said.

“Although the state police and paramilitary forces in Bastar have deployed women personnel but they have limited work. It is for the first time that an exclusive team of women commandos has been set up to carry out counter-insurgency operations shoulder to shoulder with male DRG members in the area,” said Pallava, who is credited with introducing this platoon.

“These women commandos have been given three-months advanced in-house training in jungle warfare tactics. They are trained for motorcycle patrolling in the dense forests, map reading, understanding Naxal profiles and counter-ambush strategy… The important factor is all of them are local residents, including surrendered Naxals, and therefore are well acquainted with the forested terrain and the local language. All these are key elements in the fight against Naxals,” he said.

The SP added that being able to melt into the local crowd wearing civil attire like sarees and still move around with concealed weapons gave the women commandos the “surprise element” to get the better of the Maoist ultras.

Police officials also believe that inducting women officials will bring down cases of human rights violation.

A member of the platoon, Gange, a surrendered “deputy commander” with the outlawed CPI (Maoist), said, “We are feeling relieved after quitting the Naxal movement. We wanted to marry which was not allowed in the Naxal outfit. We are now living a life with dignity and purpose as police personnel.”We want to take part in anti-Naxal operations and free Bastar of the Maoist menace,” she added.

 

With PTI inputs