Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) inducted the first batch of 209 female constables on Friday with a remarkable passing out parade at the Indo-Tibetan Border Police training centre at Bhanu, 25 kms from here.

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram presided over the Passing out Parade and attestation ceremony of the recruits who underwent 44 weeks of basic training at the Basic Training Centre. Armed with INSAS rifles, 209 women personnel on Friday joined the ranks of the ITBP to guard the Sino-Indian frontier, which Mr. Chidambaram termed as “one of the most difficult and challenging borders.”

The newly inducted recruits staged an impressive parade as they became the first combat counterparts to their male colleagues in the 48 years of the history of the force. Calling it a “historic event” Mr. Chidambaram said that with this passing out parade, the women will be able to “regulate international trade between India and China at Nathu La and Sherathung trade markets besides escorting the Kailash Mansarovar Yatris.”

The new contingent will also be used to provide security to vital installations, rescue and relief operations including disaster management, perception management and psychological operations in border villages and during festivals, public meetings and agitations.

Mr. Chidambaram congratulated the parents of the new recruits for taking a bold decision by allowing their daughters to join the force.

The women, drawn form various States of the country, started their training in February last year and are now adept in unarmed combat, weapon firing, commando tactics, map reading and other security-related drills.

They have been trained in the firing of mortars, light machine guns, Insas rifles, carbines and grenade launchers. They have also been trained in counter-insurgency operations, map reading, and field craft, among others.

ITBP Director General Vikram Srivastava said these women would also be given training in skiing and high altitude mountaineering, counter-insurgency and jungle warfare and a Quick Reaction Team (QRT) and a Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad will also be formed in order to raise an independent women’s battalion.

“From among these girls, we will constitute quick reaction teams and bomb disposal squads. We do not discriminate between men and women. The training is the same for every one,” he said.

“We will break the taboo that only men can take up border guarding duties or fight militants. We are trained and now want to prove our mettle in front of everyone,” Poonam Johari, one of the 290 troopers, said.

“It was a proud day for all of us because we join the ranks of the force that maintains border vigil over the world’s highest mountain range,” said Ms. Johari, who is also an international boxer.

This team of female constables will be the first women force to be placed by ITBP along the international border with China. The main responsibility of ITBP is to guard the internal border between India and China. Before ITBP, The Border Security Force (BSF) also initiated its first batch of about 200 woman troopers last year and deployed them along the 553 km India-Pakistan border in Punjab and also along India-Bangladesh border.