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She power in Saranda fight

- Women forces to reach out to villagers

Ranchi, Oct. 14: More than a year after the success of the all-brawn Operation Monsoon that flushed out rebels from Saranda, women in uniform are set to launch another battle soon, this time to win friends and conquer hearts.

An all-woman CRPF platoon of 35 jawans — eight of whom are local girls trained by officers — will be posted at Saranda, the first such move in a rebel-hit pocket in the country.

The women jawans will be an addition to the over 2,000 CRPF personnel already deputed in seven camps in the densely forested territory that has stayed in the national spotlight thanks to the sustained interest of Union minister Jairam Ramesh.

In all, 24 CRPF camps have been proposed for the area covering the Rs 250-crore Saranda development project — 56 villages across six panchayats of Manoharpur block.

The mahila jawans will not patrol or ‘sanitise’ the terrain, rather, they will strike the right chord with villagers, especially women.

CRPF DIG Bhanu Pratap Singh told The Telegraph that formalities of deputing the first mahila platoon were over. “It will debut soon. The purpose behind deploying a full-fledged mahila outfit now is to specifically sensitise Saranda women and address their needs,” he said.

The mahila jawans are anchored in Ranchi right now.

Members of the women’s platoon, who will make inroads in village homes, will speak to rural homemakers and adolescent girls about health, hygiene and education.

The CRPF DIG said that women would be needed specifically for this uphill task.

“Rural women form the majority of the estimated 7,000 population. As rebels had a free reign for over a decade, the area was inaccessible and untouched by development. After Saranda was liberated last year, the Centre rolled out a special package. But villagers, especially women, need to open up more to avail the full benefits of the schemes,” Singh said, adding that mahila jawans would act as the key bridge between the community and the state.

The platoon may be later turned into a full-fledged mahila battalion depending on “response and need”, said the CRPF DIG.

On the profile of the mahila jawans, the CRPF DIG said they had sought help from state director-general of police G.S. Rath requesting him to part with some persons from their cadre.

“He readily welcomed this idea. Some of the women jawans comprise local girls whom we had trained during our course of stay here,” said Singh.

He added that women and girls in the region faced unique problems, thanks to the years of cowering in a conflict zone. “Awareness on health and education is very low. Most women are grossly anaemic. Confidence is low as women have never felt secure before. Mahila CRPF jawans will hold health and education awareness camps and also visit homes daily to find out the needs of women and children. Our main aim is confidence building,” said Singh.


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