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Veer Naris are just demonstrating Feminist rights

By: Dr.Rahul Bharatbhushan Kamble

The Passing Out parade of the ‘Officers Training Academy’ is always a stellar sight to watch, but in recent times, it has also been a occasion to witness how deep rooted and stout one’s determination, commitment and love could be. Women joining the Army, whose spouses have fallen on duty, are living examples of an undeterred and unparalleled resoluteness to join the forces and follow the footsteps of the fallen.

Last month, a total of 186 officers including 151 gentlemen cadets, and 35 women cadets were inducted into the Indian Army on Saturday, October 29 after a Passing Out Parade held at the Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai, which included 2 Veer Naris. Lieutenant Rigzin Chorol has become pride of Ladakh as she has become the first woman from the cold desert region to be commissioned as an officer in the Indian Army. She passed out of the Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai on Saturday when she was commissioned as an officer in the Indian Army. Lt. Chorol lost her husband Rifleman Rigzin Kendal of 3 Ladakh Scouts in a tragic incident while performing his duty.

But she came out of the shock and prepared for the OTA and succeeded in getting entry in the premier institute. Lt. Harveen Kaur, whose husband Major KPS Kahlon had laid down his life in the line of duty, took it upon herself to adorn the uniform by joining the Officers’ Training Academy in Chennai. Notably, after 11 months of rigorous training, she has been commissioned as an officer in the Indian Army. Cadet Harveen Kaur Kahlon preferred to follow in the footsteps of her husband Major KPS Kahlon who passed away in 2019. Major KPS Kahlon was an artillery officer of the 129 SATA Regiment.

The widow of an armed forces member who has laid down his life for the nation, whether in war or in a military operation, is called a Veer Nari. And the armed forces want to ensure that their Veer Naris inspire pride, not pity. The induction of Veer Naris is done not out of sympathy or charity. First, the women have to prove themselves physically and mentally eligible, which is followed by rigorous training at par with any other officer.

The only relaxation they get is in the qualifying age to be an officer. The practice was initiated first by the Army, and the Air Force and the Navy have followed suit. To date, close to 50 war widows have joined the armed forces, with the Army having the maximum number of them among its ranks. As per rules, widows of defence personnel, including those with children, who have died in harness, are eligible to apply for short service commission. And it has a quota of 5 per cent of the total number of vacancies for women in short service commission. With the age relaxation of four years, a woman is eligible for such entry, if she has not remarried

The issues faced by Veer Naris related to their daily life in the family and outside need to be analysed and addressed on Priority. Controversies over marriage and remarriage have always remained a part in their life. Special reservations in different schemes should be made mandatory. Rights and freedom of war windows must not be curtained and restrained to kitchen only. Their honour and dignity must be maintained and special law must be enforced for war windows to securitize their daily matter and their wellbeing.

Last year, Lt Jyoti Nainwal, wife of Kulgam martyr Naik Deepak Nainwal, joined the Indian Army, thus fulfilling the dying wish of her husband. Notably, in April 2018, Naik Deepak Nainwal was injured fighting off terrorists in Kulgam, Kashmir, and was admitted to the hospital. After 40 days of fighting for his life, he succcumbed to his injuries in May 2018. Lt Sushmita Pandey’s husband Major Neeraj Pandey died fighting insurgents in Manipur two years ago. Now, the post-graduate mother of a five-year-old son says she’s ready for the challenge. Lt Neeta Deswal too was inspired to join the army after her husband Major Amit Deswal died in an operation in the Northeast two years ago. She too has a five-year-old son.

Last year, it was a treat to watch Former Northern Army Commander Lt. Gen Y K Joshi(retd) pipping Lt Nikita Kaul Dhoundiyal, wife of Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal, who was killed in an encounter with terrorists in Kashmir’s Pulwama district in February 2019, who said she decided to join the army as a “true and fitting tribute” to her late husband. Also on the roll, the CRPF witnessed a historic feat last week. IG Seema Dhundia and IG Annie Abraham, two women officers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), have been promoted to the rank of Inspector General for the first time after their induction into the force in 1987.

In today’s times, women are walking shoulder to shoulder with men in all occupations. However, gender equality is still a paramount challenge in the armed forces. The Supreme Court last year ruled that women could serve as army commanders further granting permanent commission and promotions equal to their male counterparts.

Employment of women in combat forces has become a paramount issue in the present day, there are two schools of thoughts emerging, the first professing that women officers are on a par with the male officers while performing the job on the other hand, the supporters of latter claim that it is the exploitation of women to deploy them in combat areas since they are not physically and psychologically fit to perform the job. The decisions stood in stark contrast to the Centre’s opinion, which belonged to the school of thought that women were not suitable for commanding posts in the army because male troops were not yet ready to accept their orders.

However, women officers of the Indian Army are of the opinion that the trained soldiers should focus on the rank of the officer and not the gender. They further reiterate that performance should be criteria to decide, who rises in the ranks. The whole assumption that women lack resolution along with how fragility and delicacy are synonym to a women’s character, has just erupted in the contemporary era because history is the testimony of the fact that women have far less nothing to prove. However, if we trace back in history, women have contributed their bit in the armed forces by working in the defence industry during the world wars.

There were huge influxes of women in munitions, the work that was done by men previously. About a million women worked in munitions factories during the First World War making guns, shells and explosives. Since time, immemorial women have proved their mettle and performed extremely well in peace locations and in hostile zones. The role of women in the Indian Army began in 1888 when the ‘Indian Military Nursing Service’ was formed during the British Raj but it was only in 1992 that the organisation opened doors and started inducting women in non-medical roles. In 2015, India also opened new combat air force roles for women as fighter pilots. However, despite all these developments, the women in the Indian armed forces that constitute 3% of the Indian army are still not allowed to be a part of the active combat.

By joining the forces, these women have just demonstrated the highest level of commitment which shall not go unnoticed. Netizens, specially the youth, shall be eager to draw raw inspiration from such actions. When asked if it’s ‘nationhood or motherhood’ for her, Lt. Harveen replied it will be nationhood first for her, and that the country would come even before her son.

The writer is an internee Dentist in Sangli Dist. Of Maharashtra

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