By Prarthana Mitra
With the inauguration of the first all-female Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, India’s police force is on a mission to correct the gender disparity in the predominantly male sector.
Breaking the glass ceiling, the all-women team will be working alongside 5 all-male commando units in Delhi. The new SWAT commando unit comprises 36 women, expert in unarmed combat, who underwent a rigorous 15-month-long training process before deployment.
The team also makes history on another count; all the women officers on the new roster hail from the northeast.
Over the year or so, the recruits trained in learning how to scale buildings, defuse bombs and rescue hostages, to enter the SWAT team. Other aspects of training included weapons handling, counter-terrorism and a special military self-defence technique pioneered by Israel’s security forces called Krav Maga.
“These women have broken into a male bastion,” senior Delhi police officer Pramod Kushwaha told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which had deemed India as the most dangerous country for women, in a study earlier this year. According to current data, less than 8 percent of all police officers are women, which is well below the government quota of 33 percent. With more women gaining representation and place in the law enforcement, the national capital is expected to be a safer place.
Breaking the glass ceiling
“People often have this kind of misconception that women cannot do this or women cannot do that, but I can say very proudly that these women are on par and at times better than the male commandos,” Kushwaha further added, placing complete confidence in their competence. “They know how to fire all weapons, they can intervene any terror situation or hostage situation, be it at homes or public places like malls and markets – anything, anywhere,” he gushed on record.
The retinue of “resilient” northeastern women serving to secure the national capital also sends a strong message at a time when the region is battling insurgencies and negligence. The women’s team will also be a part of the security detail during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s annual Independence Day address from the Red Fort on August 15.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.