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Women cadres shedding traditional roles in LWE areas

Raipur, June 30, 2013 (PTI):

Women in naxal cadres are being recruited more for military operations in Bastar Maoist-hotbed as against the general perception of their role as cooks, motivators and shields, according to recent findings by the state police.

The women cadres are also being given equal chance in decision making at special zonal committee rung of outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist).

"Women cadres are actively participating in military operations in large number as compared to their male counterparts. It has been clearly witnessed in recent attacks (Jiram valley attack on Congress convoy) carried by Maoists," Inspector General, Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) and anti-naxal operation, R P Kalluri told PTI.

"Women cadres are generally more brutal and ferocious. We cannot rule out their increasing numbers in the movement in Bastar. We have to psychologically deal with the issue," Kalluri said.

Intelligence inputs suggest the number of women cadres has significantly increased in the past two years in Bastar region, considered as country's worst naxal-hit area, and apparently in other states as well.

In 2010, women constituted around 40 per cent of the Naxal cadre which increased to 60 per cent in the beginning of this year. Chhattisgarh leads among naxal-hit states where recruitment of women cadre is higher.

"Women were only recruited to assist men or for ordinary tasks. But now the scenario has changed. With most of the men rebels quitting the movement, it has prompted the Maoist leaders to alter their recruitment strategy. They are giving more preference to females," an IB official said on condition of anonymity.

In the past few months, about 60 per cent women cadres were recruited at lower ranks in naxal camps as compared to men, while they hold 50 per cent presence in area and divisional committees and 25 per cent in zonal committees, the official said.

In Bastar, around 27 divisional naxal committees were operating under Dandkaranya special zonal committee, in which over 20 were being lead by women cadres.
By recruiting women, the Naxal leaders want to convince people that they enjoy social acceptability. Besides doing the routine work, women also serve better in collecting intelligence inputs, the official added.

As per the IB official, Sujata, active since past several years in the region, is heading the Dandakaranya state military commission. Accompanying her are Niti (chief of north Bastar divisional committee), Madhvi (west Bastar divisional committee), Kosi (Mangler area committee) among others.

However, this is not a recent phenomenon as women have been part of the naxal movement since its beginning, an expert on Maoist issues feels.

"They (women) easily do not quit the movement, that is why their numbers are increasing," Professor Girishkant Pandey, head of defence studies science in Government Science College, said.

According to Narayanpur Deputy Superintendent of Police N K Sahu, Chetna Natya Mandali (CNM) -- a cultural wing of Maoists -- plays a dominant role in recruiting women.
For various cultural activities aimed at publicising the naxal propaganda, mostly tribal girls were recruited and later they joined the movement.

Besides, it has recently been observed that more male cadres are quitting the movement, Sahu said.

Notably, a woman platoon party commander was recently killed in Narayanpur district while a woman deputy commander of national park area committee was gunned down in Bijpaur district, police said.


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