In a significant move viewed as a major step towards breaking the gender barriers in the armed force, the Army has finalised a plan to induct women in the military police.
The move come just two months after Army Chief General Bipin Rawat had said in an interview that the Army was looking at inducting women jawans and the process would start with the induction of women into military police corps.
The move is being viewed as a major step forward in bringing down gender barriers within the armed forces, as currently, women are only allowed in select areas of the army including: medical, legal, educational, signals and engineering wings of the Army.
Adjutant General of the army Lt General Ashwani Kumar said on Friday that it planned to induct about 800 women in the military police with a yearly intake of 52 personnel.
Lt. Gen. Kumar said the decision to induct women in the Corps of the Military Police was taken keeping in view the "increasing needs for investigation against gender-specific allegations and crime."
The announcement is seen as a step towards the entry of women in combat roles since Nirmala Sitharaman took over as the country’s first full-time woman defence minister.
"We have finalised the proposal of inducting women in the military police," Lt. Gen. Kumar told reporters.
Kumar said women were required in the Corps of Military Police (CMP) to investigate gender-specific allegations and crime. The women will be inducted as junior commissioned officers and jawans. The armed forces account for around 3,500 women officers, all of whom are in non-combat roles.
The proposal is very significant as women will be inducted in the military’s non-officer cadre for the first time, although they will be in a non-combat role.
Women were allowed to join the military as officers outside the medical stream for the first time in 1992.
The move to induct women in the CMP comes at a time when India’s first female pilots are preparing to fly warplanes after they complete the last leg of their training later this month.
The IAF had to crush internal resistance to grant women equal opportunity in the service.
In the navy, women are still not permitted to serve in submarines and warships, while the army bars them from front-line ground combat positions and tank units.
The role of the military police includes policing cantonments and army establishments, preventing breach of rules and regulations by soldiers, maintaining movement of soldiers as well as logistics during peace and war, handling prisoners of war, and extending aid to civil police whenever required.
The process of induction is likely to start next year.
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