On of the first tasks assigned to ‘Black Cats’ women commandos, after being inducted into the prestigious National Security Guards in 2012, was to provide a security cover to high profile female politicians, which included the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha and the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati.
The team, which consisted of 25 women, were not only trained in VIP security but also to handle difficult hostage situations. The unit was apparently made on an assumption that women VIPs would feel more comfortable in presence of female security guards than male NSG commandos. With the last women ‘black cat’ commando having proceeded on maternity leave recently, questions have been raised why more inductions have not been made to this elite security force
It was at the very start of women commandos that the proposed new security arrangement received a severe blow when both Jayalalitha and Mayawati, leaders who were accorded with Z+ security then, refused to take the services of women Black Cats. The argument extended was that a female team could not provide proper security as could be done so by their male counterparts.
While Jayalalitha did handle the situation diplomatically, Mayawati outrightly denied them their duties though she had to give up after it hit the news headlines. Since then, Mayawati used to have an army of both male and female NSG guarding her. While she would take female commandos only for events near her residence, for long journeys and trips, she used to trust only their male counterparts.
On the other hand, Jayalalitha simply said NO to the NSG bosses regarding the deployment of female “black cats” as her shadow; bothering the least to furnish any reason for the same.
Security arrangements of a VIP is decided by the union government on the basis of threat perception assessed by intelligence agencies. There is no provision for VIPs to decide what kind of security guards are to be provided to them, but these two women leaders chose to have their way in deployment of female NSG commandos for their security.
In public life the duo were so vocal about female empowerment but did everything to stay clear of female NSG commandos for their security arrangements.
NSG Director General Subhash Joshi, however is all praises for the special security unit. In an interaction with Times Of India, he said:
We do not discriminate between men and women in our force. Our female commandos are as good as our men and will be put to all duties as and when the time and requirement arises.
Presently, the women unit of National Security Guard simply ceases to be, with the last woman commando of the force going on maternity leave recently. The “black cat” is once again an all-male bastion, at least till the woman officer rejoins the cadre after her leave.
While the women units in other paramilitary forces are seeing rising numbers, the NSG is sadly lagging behind. However, re-affirming his belief about women unit of black cats, senior NSG officer Sudhir Pratap Singh, who is set to retire soon, told India Today:
Though it is unfortunate that, we do not have women commandos but we are working on an ambitious project of crack team of women commandos…..soon we will have women commandos who will be part of the counter terror team, at par with their male counterparts.