June 10, 2016:
India recently graduated its first hundred female paramilitary police. The women underwent a 44 week combat course to prepare them for the job of fighting communist rebels in eastern India. Five companies of female police are being trained and sent to join five police battalions. The women will mainly serve to gather intelligence among civilians, especially female civilians. The communist rebels (Maoists) have long had women in their ranks. This has been the norm for most rebel groups worldwide for over a century. This was made possible by the development of powerful and lightweight firearms that became widely available. Worldwide more and more military and police organizations are training and deploying women in this fashion. The Americans had a lot of success with this in Iraq and Afghanistan.
These 560 female combat police are part of the current (announced in 2015) expansion (17 new battalions) of the Indian CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) para-military police. The new battalions are mainly for operations in Kashmir (five battalions) and eastern India (12 battalions.)
CRPF is the principal national police organization dealing with terrorists and rebels. Founded in 1939, and retained when India became independent in 1947 CRPF kept getting larger over the decades. By 2010 the CRPF had nearly 200,000 personnel organized in 70 battalions and smaller units. This included seven “rapid action” battalions that could be quickly sent to any part of the country to deal with outbreaks of violence. The CRPF has always been heavily involved fighting Maoists. Since 2010 the CRPF has been expanded 50 percent with most of the new battalions (of about 1,100 police each) going to eastern India for use against Maoist rebels.
The offensive against the Maoists began back in 2010 when 75,000 CRPF men were sent to eastern India. These communist rebels and terrorists have been at it since the 1970s and were still going strong after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War in 1991. Worldwide most communist rebel groups did suffer heavy losses due to desertions and loss of income and popular support. But not so much in India where the armed communist terrorists belonged to the Maoist movement, an organization trying to establish a communist dictatorship similar to the radical communist movement of the 1960s, when Chinese ruler Mao Zse Dong sought to "purify" the country with a lot of chaos and millions of dead. The Cambodian Khmer Rouge was the first copy-cat Maoists, and they killed over a million of their countrymen in the 1970s. The Communist Party of India is a powerful political force, and supports the Maoists, while officially disapproving of the Maoist terrorism. Thus many Indian leftists see dead Maoists as victims.
In most of the states with a Maoist problem the police believe they have the Maoists under control. But in a few areas (like Chhattisgarh State) the Maoist violence remained intense because its population of 22 million has the highest proportion (about a third) of tribal peoples of all the states of India. Now most people don't think of tribes in India but this is a complicated country. With over a billion people, and 19 major languages, India is more complicated, culturally, than Europe (which has half as many people, fewer different cultures, and no tribes still active). While India eliminated most feudalistic practices half a century ago, after the British left, there were still a lot of old customs left that rankled, especially out in the countryside. The tribal peoples survived by staying out of the mainstream. As happens to tribes everywhere, they got screwed by the non-tribal folk and the Maoists found this fertile ground for their radical ideas about how to make everything better. Actually, the Maoists do not have a large following among the citizens of Chhattisgarh. But it's enough to enable the Maoists to raise several thousand dedicated followers, many of them armed. The Maoists are communists and to them it’s all about class warfare and anyone who disagrees is an "enemy of the people." The Maoists pay their way via the usual extortion racket (revolutionary taxes) and theft (from class enemies like the government and businesses that won’t pay for protection). The Maoists also play Robin Hood, battling the local landlords and power brokers. If some big shot screws the little guy, he can expect a visit from armed and deadly Maoists. But the local swells know who they are up against and most maintain large security forces. Against the Maoists the CRPF has had to be creative and adaptive to succeed.
Indian border guard have also recently added women and found this useful in many ways, especially when seeking information from civilians living along the border.