Border guarding force ITBP has decided to induct a batch of eight women personnel who will be the first among the central paramilitary forces to be trained as handlers for canine squads deployed in various security theatres, including anti-Naxal operations.
Dog handlers in the central armed police forces (CAPFs) are an all-male domain right now.
The selected women Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel are in the rank of constable and belong to the 'animal transport' cadre of the mountain-warfare trained force that was raised in the wake of the 1962 Chinese aggression along India's eastern front.
The force is primarily tasked to guard the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, apart from rendering a variety of duties in the internal security domain like conducting anti-Maoist operations and carrying out anti-sabotage checks during high-profile events and VVIP visits.
The eight women are part of a 25 personnel team who will join training in the last week of this month at the ITBP-run National Training Centre for Dogs (NTCD) in the Bhanu area in Haryana's Panchkula.
"This will go a long way in breaking barriers, changing mindsets and proving that there is absolutely no job in the security forces that women cannot do. The ITBP has truly broken the proverbial glass ceiling by inducting ladies in the K9 (canine) wing, ITBP Deputy Inspector General (Veterinary) Sudhakar Natarajan told PTI.
He said the eight women personnel, in an average age bracket of early to mid-20s, would be first put under training for two to three months as they begin rearing the Malinois breed of pups.
This initial course will be followed by another three months of a 'tactical obedience course' and the final leg would be to undergo three to four months of 'dual purpose dogs' or PEDD (patrol and explosive detection dogs) training.
The officer said he feels women "would be more successful in the dog handling domain due to their motherly instincts and feeling of empathy".
"I have seen during my stint in the United Nations with NATO forces that dogs were more receptive to the feminine voice, as a dog processes the commands based on frequency alone and therefore, a female voice frequency will enhance trainability," Natarajan said.
A senior CAPF officer said this was probably the last work profile where women were not engaged in the central forces.
"Police forces of Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra have already inducted women as dog handlers in their canine wing. The performance of these women personnel should encourage more and more forces to do the same," the officer said.
The ITBP also has the credit to be the first security force in the country to have inducted the Malinois breed of dogs, a litter of an Israeli male Malinois crossed with an American bitch, in 2009.
The coarser looking breed is the most preferred by security forces for infantry patrol duties and commando operations because of its ability to perform and deliver good results in challenging, difficult terrain and harsh climate areas.