The 36 member all women team has been trained for 15 months by the NSG for anti-terrorism duty under the Delhi Police’s Special Cell. All the women hail from north eastern region of the country.
Clad in blue uniform, equipped with AK-47 rifles, MP5 machine guns, and corner shot devices for enhanced night vision, India’s first all women Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team took charge on August 15 for the security of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Red Fort. Delhi Police on August 10 introduced the team that is an expert in unarmed combat, ambush and counter ambush, urban operations with knowledge of explosives, IEDs and assault weapons.
The 36-member all-women SWAT team has been trained by the National Security Guard (NSG) for anti-terrorism duty under the Delhi Police’s Special Cell. All the women officers hail from the north-eastern region of India.
Dipti Barman, a member of the team said that to hear the Prime Minister speak about her team made her beam with pride. “I can feel the responsibility and my team would give its complete support in fulfilling every task assigned to it,” Barman told the Indian media.
After more than a year of rigorous training – learning to scale buildings, defuse bombs and rescue hostages, the team has been trained to undertake complex operations during terrorist attacks at crowded markets, residential complexes or government premises. These women have also been given training in Krav Maga, which is a self-defence system developed for the Israel Defence Forces.
“These women have broken into a male bastion,” senior Delhi police officer Pramod Kushwaha told the Reuters. According to current data, less than eight percent of all police officers are women, which is well below the government quota of 33 pc. The deployment of the all-women team is a good sign since it comes at a time when India performs poorly in gender-specific measures of workforce inclusivity.
“People often have this kind of misconception that women cannot do this or women cannot do that, but I can say very proudly that these women are on par and at times better than the male commandos,” Kushwaha added.
Where do the women stand?
According to World Bank data, India ranks 120 among 131 countries in female labour force participation rates. In 2017, about 28 pc of Indian women between the ages of 15 and 64 had a job or were actively looking for one, compared with 82 pc of men in the same age group.
The Ministry of Home Affairs in 2013 reiterated the target of 33 pc reservation for women in the police and recommended each police station to have at least three women sub-inspectors and ten women police constables to ensure women help-desks are staffed at all times. However, according to India’s Bureau of Police Research and Development, women made up about 7.2 pc of the total Indian police force last year.
There is a diversity deficit of female officers in Indian police organisation as the actual strength of women police personnel is 7.1 pc across India, while the percentage of women personnel in the Central Armed Police Forces is 2.36 pc. According to official data, less than one percent of policewomen in India occupy senior ranks and almost 90 pc of them serve as constables. Women officers are routinely relegated to desk jobs or tasks that shield them from frontline policing. These kinds of assignments that are away from core law-enforcement duties prove to be an impediment in the career of women officers.