Operation 500: CRPF inducts women personnel to deal with female stone-pelters

SRINAGAR: The CRPF is all set to launch a special unit of over 800 women commandos to deal with stone-pelters, among which women are increasingly figuring, in Jammu and Kashmir from the middle of this month, say officials of the central paramilitary force.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), handling internal security in Jammu and Kashmir along with the state police, took the step to launch the special women unit as the number of women stone-pelters is rising in the strife-torn region.

Officials in the 3.5 lakh strong force, a part of which is also deputed in the Kashmir Valley, said the initiative was taken as the male commandos had to face criticism by human rights activists whenever they took action against women stone-pelters.

The women commandos are currently getting one-and-a-half month training at CRPF’s Humhuma recruitment training centre here, and the force has decided to deploy them with their male colleagues whenever any stone-pelting incident would be reported in the Valley.

Like their male counterparts, the women personnel of this unit would be equipped with full body protection dress, helmets, wooden sticks, tear gas shotgun shells, as well as pelargonic acid vanillyl amide (PAVA) shells or chilli-filled grenades, plastic bullets and other necessary things used to control the crowd during incidents of stone pelting.

“Incidents of stone pelting have repeatedly been challenging security forces across Jammu and Kashmir. It is more challenging than militancy,” CRPF Inspector General, Operations, Zulfiqar Hasan told IANS.

“As young men usually form groups and participate in stone-pelting incidents here, the number of women participants too is on the rise.

“We are in the process now to launch a special CRPF women commandos unit to deal with women as well as men who throw stones. Over 800 women personnel are being trained here for the purpose,” Hasan said.

Asked the exact time of their deployment, he said: “Our women commandos are on the verge of completing their training. They will be used to deal with stone-pelters within 15-20 days.

“As we had to face denunciation from public and human rights departments for using force against women stone-pelters, we thought to use a women force to deal with the situation.”

Stone-pelters have often been accused of hindering anti-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir. It has also been observed by security forces that in recent times, women are also participating in such incidents.

Bringing stone-pelting under control becomes even more sensitive when women get themselves involved in this practice, said another CRPF official.

He said the decision to deploy women commandos could have an enormous benefit for CRPF.

These commandos have been given rigorous training which includes being blindfolded to deal with night-time deployment and repairing malfunctioning weapons in under a minute, said the official.

Intelligence agencies widely suspect that Pakistan is funding stone-pelters in Jammu and Kashmir and that groups of stone-pelters are also being organised by several separatists.