Women join Naxals, score 35

Posting this for the archives on Karnataka.
5 November, 2005

BANGALORE: It’s a recruitment drive that could possibly drive the Karnataka police up the wall. To gain a stronger foothold and spread their tentacles, Naxals have started augmenting their women cadres by signing up young SC/ST girls covertly.

Intelligence inputs put the number of women currently in Karnataka’s Naxal camps at around 35, a seven-fold increase in two years. “This means Karnataka is next to Chhattisgarh which tops the list of Naxal-affected states where recruitment of women is high,” sources told The Times of India.

Majority of women taking to Naxal ideology are from the SC/ST belts of Mudigere, Tarikere, Shimoga, Sringeri, Kudremukh, Thirthahalli, Someshwara and Hebri areas of Malnad region (active Naxal areas). “They have been recuriting women for quite some time.

Already, there are some on their rolls,” DG&IGP BS Sial said. When Naxal commander Saket Rajan was gunned down in February, the police found the names of 38 women members in his diary. But why recruit women?

While the general perception is that women are used as cooks and motivators in Naxal camps, Sial said: “By recruiting women they want to convince people that they enjoy social acceptability.” Last month, a group of 12 Naxals, including five women, warned a landlord at Kotukuli in Kundapur taluk against harassing labourers.

“When women issue such warnings, female labourers naturally see Naxals as their saviours,” an officer pointed out. Further, female Naxals can move into neglected tribal areas and convince the poor, especially women, about their fight without being suspected by the police.

They are also used to ferreting out information from lower rung police personnel about operational strategies. Once in, the women are trained in jungle warfare and motivational techniques. Sources said Naxals have brought in two female leaders from outside the state, possibly from Andhra Pradesh, to train them.

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