Need women in combat roles, says Indian Army chief

Published: 09:29 GMT, Jun 10, 2017 |

Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Saturday (June 10) said the force needed women in combat positions to tackle the women members of the public, often encountered during operations.

Rawat was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the passing out parade of cadets at Indian Military Academy in northern Dehradun city.

The army chief said that women will first be inducted in military police before combat positions in the force.

India, which has one of the largest armies in the world, has resisted induction of women in fighting or combat roles, citing concern over women’s vulnerability if captured and over their physical and mental ability to cope with the stress of frontline deployments.

India began recruiting women to non-medical positions in the armed forces in 1992, yet only 2.5 percent of its over one million personnel are women – most of them administrators, intelligence officers, doctors, nurses or dentists.

However, in a major step forward towards greater gender parity, India recruited its first three female fighter pilots in the Air Force last year.

Speaking about the prevailing unrest in Indian Kashmir, Rawat said that a misinformation campaign was being run on social media to incite the youth of the state.

The sharp rise in violence in recent months in Kashmir is more spontaneous than before, complicating the task of Indian security forces trained largely in counter-insurgency and poorly equipped to contain broader unrest.

India accuses Pakistan of backing separatist fighters – a charge Islamabad denies. Kashmir witnessed deadly protests after a well-known separatist militant was killed last year.

Violence has declined since the early 2000s, when thousands died each year, but disillusionment and anger against Indian rule is widespread, and the separatist revolt is now largely homegrown.