NEW DELHI: In a bid to counter the women who throw stones at security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, the Union government plans to raise an all-woman India Reserve Battalion (IRB) in the State, a Home Ministry official said on Thursday.
The Centre has also given directions to the State government to not use Special Police Officers as “chowkidaars (guards)” at the houses of politicians and government officials and to use them in active policing instead.
The decisions were taken at a marathon meeting, chaired by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday, to review various developmental and infrastructure projects in the State.
The Centre asked the State government to build as many football fields and sports facilities as possible in rural Kashmir to engage the youth, a senior Home Ministry official said.
As part of the Rs. 80,000-crore development package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, around Rs. 19,500 crore was released for various projects. The package has been sanctioned for 63 projects concerning 15 Central ministries, the official said.
The decision to raise an all-women battalion comes after it was observed that girl students were throwing stones at security forces in Srinagar.
The all-women contingent will be among the five IRBs sanctioned by the Centre for the State last year.
The battalion would also be assigned other law and order duties but its personnel will be primarily deployed for tackling protesters, the official said.
An official said that as soon as they advertised for the 5,000 posts in the IRBs, more than 1.4 lakh people from the State, including 6,000 women, had applied. An official claimed that nearly 40% of the applicants were from the Kashmir Valley.
The IRBs are being raised to provide jobs to the local youths, with 60% of the vacancies to be filled with candidates from the border districts.
Cost to Centre
The cost of raising each battalion is around Rs. 61 crore, and 75% of the expenditure will be borne by the Centre. IRB personnel are normally deployed in their respective States but they can be sent elsewhere if required.
Last year, the Centre sanctioned the recruitment of 10,000 additional SPOs. The existing number is 25,000.
“The State government was told that SPOs should not be recruited on the basis of political recommendations and they should not be used for VIP duties,” said an official.