New Delhi: In a maiden initiative undertaken for women empowerment in Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the government has decided to recruit young female officers in the force and deploy them at select locations like Nathula Pass along the Indo-China frontier.
ITBP is the designated security force to secure 3,488-km of the Line of Actual Control with China and since its raising in 1962, the force has never directly inducted women officers in its ranks considering the arduous nature of its task along the icy and inhospitable frontier running along the Himalayan mountain ranges.
“An in-principle approval has been given by the government to recruit women officers in ITBP for the first time. The Union Home Ministry will soon issue orders for amending the recruitment rules in this regard. The UPSC is expected to issue advertisements for these posts this year itself,” a senior official in the security establishment said.
The government, in a gradual manner, has begun the exercise of hiring young women officers in two other border guarding forces of BSF (in 2013) and SSB (in 2014), but ITBP was since being ignored in this regard as its border posts and deployment of units are located in some of the most difficult areas on India's eastern flank.
“Women will be recruited as Assistant Commandants, which is the direct entry level for officers in central paramilitary forces. ITBP has suggested they could be deployed at border interaction points like Nathula in Sikkim and at battalion or sector command units of the force in eastern states like Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand,” the official said.
The women officers can supervise the working of their border guarding contingents under their command and also undertake patrolling at some select stretches.
Once the women officers are recruited by early next year by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) after a written exam and interview, they could be deployed on ground by the later part of the year or early 2017, the official added.
Till now, women could only don the combat uniform in the officer cadre in all central security forces like the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the border guarding forces Border Security Force and Sashastra Seema Bal, except ITBP.
ITBP, at present, has about 1,400 women with the majority being in the rank of constables.
“The force had women in the lower ranks but they were largely being commanded by male officers. Now, with this new crop, the women will take full charge,” the official said.
The ITBP has about 80,000 personnel in its ranks and apart from securing the China border it renders some important tasks in anti-Naxal operations, counter-insurgency and VIP security duties.
Force officials say that while having male officers as commanders of women units was not a problem in the force, popularly called the ‘Himveers', deputing women as leaders surely sends the message that they are second to none and can accomplish any task as good as their male counterparts.
After being recruited and commissioned as ACs, these women officers can rise and get promotions to become Deputy Commandants and Commandants of an operational company (about 100 personnel) or a full battalion (approximately 1,000 personnel) and further as Deputy Inspector General and IG in the paramilitary force.