Kanker district of Chhattisgarh is a Jivalamari which means it is a place where one has no surety of life. The place is famous to take the lives off. The village is four-kilometer trek uphill from the nearest road and it is a life-threatening place.
However, it will be no more a Jivalamari place as the construction is in full swing here. Villagers are helping in the construction of the road and noticeable is the women of the village are also giving a helping hand because a platoon of female commandos(one platoon has 36 soldiers) is now protecting the area.
This is the first time when villagers are openly taking part in the construction of the road. As the Naxals never allow such activity in the village and the area around the village. They oppose such construction even by taking brutal steps. Last year in April, Naxals ambushed 25 Jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force. These Jawans were guarding the construction of the road.
Divyawatti, a commando who is guarding the road’s construction told to ET Magazine, “As I come from a police family, they are aware of the life of a soldier. Yes, my family is concerned, but for them, my staying in the jungles is the new normal.”
The Commandos who are protecting the road construction are heavily armed and are always ready with their bullet-proof jackets.
A writer reached and spent time in the village with women Commandos to understand their life in the jungle, and how they managed to create bonhomie with the women of the village.
Tikeswari Dhruv, another commando protecting the construction of road said, “The villagers were initially wondering why we — women commandos — are here. Now, they come to us, and we talk and laugh together.” On having fear of Naxals, she said, “We are strong women. Hame dar nahi lagti hai (We don’t get scared).”
Tikeswari joined the Chhattisgarh Police in the year 2016, and last year in year, she elevated as a commando.
Lately, the commandos of women in Naxal-affected areas were trained for limited expeditions. In fact, the first platoon of the female commando was made in Bijapur district in mid-2017, when the then Superintendent of Police KL Dhruv worked hard to create such platoon. The women police officers were selected and given rigorous training to make the field ready. Then after, two more platoons in Kanker and Sukma were formed.
As per Vivekanand, inspector general of police of Bastar division, “We have deployed women commandos for area domination, guarding road construction and also for limited anti-Naxal operations. The success rate so far has been very encouraging. We will expand their presence further.”
The police forces and security forces have been facing the allegations of sexually harassing and raping the women of the village and this is a big challenge for them in anti-Naxal operations. As per the police sources, now with the deployment of women Commandos, such allegation won’t come in their way.
Also, women Commandos are easily bonding with villagers and this bonding is helping them in working in the area.
Women of nearby Marapi village including Rupatin, Rajula, Surekha, Laxmi, and Ghazmin came forward and praised the women Commandos. A 70-year-old villager Halal Ram Netam said, “About 70-80 of our villagers, both men and women, helped in constructing the road. Everyone was comfortable as women commandos were guarding the area.”
Till the date, no casualty of female commando has been reported, said the Bastar police. The women Commandos are now sent for anti-Naxal operations near the camps.
The deployment of women Commandos:
- Women Commandos were deployed in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh in mid-2017 for the first time.
- 3 platoons have total 108 commandos. As each commando contains 36 soldiers.
- Lately, two new platoons one in Sukma and one in Kanker districts were added.
- Soon, they will be deployed in Kondagaon and Narayanpur districts.
- They are guarding road construction in Left Wing Extremism affected areas.
- They are deployed especially to counter allegations of sexual harassment of tribal women by the forces.