Bangalore: Maoists or Naxalites, India’s largest internal security threats, are now recruiting more women not just as cooks, motivators or to act as shields for male members, but as cadres for military operations. There is a considerable rise in the number of Maoist women cadres who are involved in recent attacks and encounters with the security forces, reports Rakhi Chakrabarty for Times of India.
RPN Singh, Minister of State for Home Affairs said, "In recent incidents of Naxalite attacks, participation of a substantial number of female cadres has been observed. A large number of female cadres have also died in exchanges of fire with the security forces," reports TOI.
"The women cadres are tactically placed in armed units of the rebels to protect male cadres and leaders during exchange of fire with the security forces. Maoists forcibly recruit women cadres, including minor girls from tribal areas, in their ranks," added Singh. The recent attack on a train in Bihar which killed three people comprised of a large number of women members. Women are used as a human shield during attacks by placing them in the frontline to escape death from the bullets of the security forces. Maoists also used women cadres for propaganda and publicity.
"Many of them, who have surrendered before the authorities concerned from time to time, have complained of sexual exploitation by male cadres," exclaimed Singh.
One of the reasons behind the rise of Maoist women cadres is because of the difficulty to recruit male cadres. "Parents in even remote areas seize the slightest opportunity to send their boys away from home to keep them away from the Maoists," said a source.
“Maoists mount pressure on locals to offer their children, including girls, as recruits. Even the slightest resistance by local people invites harsh reprisals like beheading, torture and other forms of violence,” said Singh.
The Union Government is now working towards filling the security vacuum that the Maoists utilize to carry out their writ. As such, in 2009, though 37 battalions of central forces were set up in Maoist-hit areas; the number has gone up to 89 battalions at present.