An eight-minute video of female naxal commandos has put the Chhatisgarh police on its toes.
They were seen performing — from climbing tall trees, crossing hurdles and other training activities carried out by security agencies. For the first time, such a video of female Naxals involved in rigorous training has come to fore.
Female militants have worn used tree trunks to make barrels, crossing 10-12 feet above the ground and also dug tunnels in the ground to move around. A male voice in Gondi dialect can be heard instructing the females to move fast.
Police sources said that the authenticity of the video was verified, but that the video has put the police in a tight spot. A senior official said that the women are seen training in unarmed lethal combat situations and the police suspect that this might have followed with armed combat training. Another matter of concern is the presence of a large number of female members in the video.
The source said that the Naxals use various military training videos available on the internet for their training.
A senior police officer in Police Headquarters in Raipur told Firstpost that till 2014, women formed 40 percent of the Naxalite fighting force; it was under 25 percent in 2008.
He said that women are women are part of the Red ranks. They are directly involved in combat roles," he added.
Even in Delhi, the home ministry is alarmed by the new trend. Despite increasing cases of women being subjected to sexual exploitation and therefore quitting the forces, their numbers and importance continue to rise, with some divisional committees being headed by women.
Zonal committees also have a good representation of women. Experts are of the view that increasing the women's cadres could be part of a strategy to increase their base.
A former Salwa Judum activist who is now running an NGO in Dantewada said that women's cadres are a known fact but the fact that they outnumber men is phenomenal.
"This is a high number, and the government should find out what the reasons could be," he said. One of the reasons for the increasing numbers is that girls are being recruited at an early age. According to recent estimates in Red Corridor, more than 500 children have been trained to fight alongside adults.
Sources say that girls are being pushed into combat roles as early as 12 years of age. By the time they are 18, they are well-trained and are experts in guerrilla fighting and in planting improvised explosive devices.