The government has ruled out any women officers post for select paramilitary forces even as a significant number of women were recently recruited in lower ranks of some of the border guarding forces.
The new notification issued by the Union Public Service Commission, which recruits entry-level officers for Central police forces will make it impossible for any women officer to head the almost 2,000 young women personnel in the combat ranks of three of the border guarding forces.
The UPSC has notified that women applicants for these entry-level officer posts are ineligible for border guarding forces of the Sashastra Seema Bal, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the Border Security Force.
"Both males and females are eligible for CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) and CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force). For SSB, BSF and ITBP only male candidates are eligible," the notification for recruitment of assistant commandants for the five para-military forces said on May 29.
Incidentally, the above mentioned forces started recruiting women constables for their active duties along borders for the first time since the last year but the all women battalions and companies are still commanded by male officers.
The forces had recruited women constables in their ranks with huge fanfare and Home Minister P Chidamabaram had commissioned the maiden women batches for ITBP and BSF.
The government has recently notified the recruitment rules for Central Police Forces Assistant Commandants Examination 2010, scheduled to be held on October 24 this year. This is the entry-level exam for officers in these forces.
Initially recruited as ACs, the officers rise to become deputy commandants and commandants of an operational company (100 personnel) or a full battalion (1,000 personnel) subsequently.
However, not many are happy with the new rule. "Although male commanders in the ranks of assistant commandants, deputy commandants and commandants are commanding these women units well, a women commander will surely boost their morale. The government notification for recruiting 753 ACs however denies them this chance for this year," a senior home ministry officer said.
The notification for this year's exam should have addressed the issue, the officer said.
"It would be good to have a women officer commanding our units. She may understand us better. During our training we were told we will have women commanders. Although male commanders are equally good," a women ITBP constable said.