The proverbial glass ceiling in the country’s largest paramilitary force has finally been broken. For the first time in 35 years since the first women’s battalion was raised in Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), two lady officers have been promoted to the rank of Inspector General (IG). An IG is the head of a sector in CRPF.
Both the officers were inducted in CRPF in 1987.
Officials said, according to orders issued by the CRPF headquarters, Annie Abraham has been appointed as the IG of Rapid Action Force (RAF), while Seema Dhundia has been posted as IG of the Bihar Sector.
This is the first time that RAF will be headed by a woman IG.
“We joined CRPF in 1986 and were inducted a year later. Since then, we have seen many difficult situations,” Annie Abraham told NDTV.
According to her, after her training, she was posted in Ayodhya. “Those were initial days when the skirmishes had just started, but we learnt a lot,” she said.
Both the officers have also commanded an all-women Indian police contingent at the United Nations.
They have also been decorated with the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service, Police Medal for Meritorious Service and the ‘Ati Utkrisht Sewa Padak’ during their service, a CRPF spokesperson said.
Dhundia told NDTV that despite being an operations commander, she would also like to play the role of a mentor. “I would like to make our troops thorough professionals, having impeccable bearing and conduct and of course a conducive environment for the young women entrants in this great force”.
The 15 battalion-strong RAF is deployed for anti-riots, counter-protests and sensitive law and order duties in various parts of the country and is deployed to assist state police forces for heavy crowd management and also during VIP visits.
The Bihar Sector of CRPF commands about four battalions that are deployed for anti-Naxal operations and other law and order duties, apart from some RAF units and CoBRA, the unit that specialises in jungle warfare.
The CRPF was the first Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) to induct women in combat in 1986. It has six such battalions at present with women constables filling more than 6,000 posts.
“I led an all-male battalion in Mizoram and had to move the central battalion from there to Jammu when the land row broke out in 2008. To keep the flock together is a challenging task,” Ms Abraham recalls, adding that now in her new role, she will ensure that RAF attains greater heights.
With inputs from NDTV