Tribal girls undertake martial arts training in front of Kishori Niketan
at Biju Para in ranchi on wednesday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Mandar (Ranchi), May 25: At one point, they couldn’t defend themselves. Today, they are prepared to protect the state.
Young girls cowering in rebel belts of Latehar, Garhwa, Chatra and others are now standing tall, thanks to a pilot martial arts training project rolled out jointly by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and NGO Action against Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children (Atsec). “The response is terrific,” said P.M. Nayar, special DG, CRPF, over phone from Delhi on the project that comprises skills in karate, judo, taekwondo and personality development.
“Earlier, we focused on civic amenities in core areas. Now, we are capitalising on human resource. We are training tribal girls in rebel hubs to become self-sufficient,” said Nayar, who yesterday visited Kishori Niketan at Biju Para in Mandar, a home for trafficked women run by Atsec 35km from Ranchi, to hand over certificates to 30 girls on their successful completion of training.
The change is visible in the body language of the first 30 girls who received their certificates yesterday. They don’t shuffle their feet and look down. They stand ramrod straight and speak confidently. Four have already cleared two rounds for recruitment in Jharkhand Armed Police (JAP).
Take Poonam Oraon (19) of Latehar, who had stopped working at a community health centre in Daltonganj due to sexual harassment.
“My father, a driver, found it tough to feed our large family. I cleared my secondary exams, and thought I’d chip in with some earning. One evening, I was returning home when two biker groups gheraoed me and forcefully lifted me on a bike. Petrified, I somehow managed to escape,” she said.
That was a year ago. Today, she wants the incident to recur so that she can “give the hooligans a taste of their own medicine”. After all, Poonam cleared rounds for JAP in a Khunti camp and is awaiting the medical test.
In rebel hubs, police patrolling isn’t regular, unless a big incident occurs. Girls say rape and molestation are normal but hardly get reported. “People are too scared,” Fatma Lakra, from Mahuatand in Latehar, says. She recalls horror stories. Many girls from her village went to Delhi for jobs but never returned. Girls who stayed back became Maoist targets for molestation. “But now, no one dares mess with me.”
The training is on in batches. “A fresh batch of 30 girls enrolled from today,” said Sanjay Mishra, state co-ordinator of Atsec. “We impart vocational skills to rescued girls who had been trafficked. Self-defence for girls in rebel hubs is an extension of our services,” he said.
Nayar said the department would try and induct the girls in state forces. “It’s a reality that government posts are limited. We’re keeping an open mind and are in talks with various firms for security guard jobs too,” he added.