While Nida Fatima dreams of serving the nation by joining the Army, armed with weapons to protect her nation, many in her neighbourhood tell her the burqa should be her only shield.
But Nida stands undeterred.
“Though my family has been supportive of my decision to join the Army, many in my area think I should just be under a burqa. I want to prove them wrong and become the first from my locality to join the Army,” she says in an interview with the Times of India.
A young Neha Bisht, daughter of martyr Late Narinder Singh Bisht, a havaldar in the 4 Garhwal Rifles, killed in action in Jammu and Kashmir just two months back, dreams of not letting her father’s sacrifice go in vain.
“Since my childhood, I wanted to join the Army. After my father’s death, the resolve has become even stronger. I hope to follow in my father’s footsteps and lead the life that I had always wanted to live,” she says.
The dreams of over 600 Nidas and Nehas, aged between 19 to 21, from various regions of Uttarakhand can come true now. The country’s premier mountaineering institute, Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM), in association with NGO Youth Foundation Uttarakhand, will be conducting intensive training to help women qualify as jawans in the Army’s Corps of Military Police (CMP).
These training camps are to be set up in Srinagar’s Pauri Garhwal, and Dehradun will begin from October 22.
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The selected candidates will not only undergo strenuous physical training but also be trained to crack the written entrance exams for the CMP.
Shedding light on the programme, Col Ajay Kothiyal, principal of NIM said, “They will be made to do running, push-ups and other exercises for at least three months. One of the important criteria for joining CMP is knowing how to drive so we will be teaching them that as well.”
The recruitment for CMP is stipulated to begin from January 2018, and therefore the idea of this pre-recruitment training is to get the candidates fit and ready ahead of time.
Administrator of Youth Foundation Uttarakhand, Suresh Negi said that they were overwhelmed by the response of young women who exhibited interest in joining the forces. Of over 2000 women who applied for the training, only 600 were shortlisted based on criteria like the minimum height requirement (157 cm), a score of at least 45% in class 10, marital status (unmarried) etc.
Deemed the first of its kind training for young women willing to join the forces, we hope many more institutes follow the lead, thus balancing the gender ratio in some of the most important and prestigious services in the country.