They spring up from sleep and arm in a few seconds, scale high-rise buildings, and defuse bombs, but most importantly break the glass ceiling as India’s first all-female commando group.
In what is bound to pave the way for more female ranks joining India’s predominantly male police force, the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team has started work in India’s capital of New Delhi.
After 15 months of training, the women become proficient in counter-terrorism, explosives and weapons handling, and Krav Maga – a military self-defense technique pioneered by Israel. The 36-strong group will also be protecting the PM on Independence Day.
They all come from the northeast region, which has been rocked by separatist insurgencies and is perceived as having been largely neglected by the government before Modi.
They will be working alongside five all-male teams, Pramod Kushwaha, a senior Delhi police official, said.
“These women have broken into a male bastion,” he told the Reuters.
“People often have this kind of misconception that women cannot do this or women cannot do that, but I can say very proudly that these women are on par and at times better than the male commandos.”
They have already been tasked with protecting the life of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he gives his Independence Day speech on August 15 at the 17th-century Red Fort in Delhi.
Only seven percent of India’s police force are currently women, falling short of the government’s 33 percent target by a long shot.
“We are very confident that these women are fully competent and there is no reason why they should not be given the high-profile task,” Kushwaha said.
“They know how to fire all weapons, they can intervene any terror situation or hostage situation, be it at homes or public places like malls and markets – anything, anywhere.”
One source detailed the competencies the women have acquired through their hard training.
“They are experts at abseiling and scaling, they can spring from deep sleep to action, fully armed, within a minute of an alarm,” an unnamed trainer told the Times of India.
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