Another barrier has been broken in the Army with a mother of two becoming the first woman jawan.
Outperforming her male counterparts in the physical tests, 35-year-old Sapper Shanti Tigga joined the 969 Railway Engineer Regiment of Territorial Army (TA).
“Women are allowed to join the armed forces only as officers in the non-combat units. But Tigga has earned the unique distinction of being the first lady jawan in the 1.3 million strong defence forces,” a senior Army officer said.
“She performed exceedingly well in all the physical tests. She took five seconds less than her male counterparts to complete 1.5-km run. She completed the 50 metre run in 12 seconds which is rated as excellent,” he said.
Employed with the Railways as a points-man and posted at Chalsa station in West Bengal's Jalpaiguri district, Tigga volunteered for the TA last year.
“I joined Railways in 2005, on compensatory ground after my husband passed away. Last year, I learnt about TA Railways and I volunteered for it. At that time, I was not aware that no woman has ever joined the Army as personnel below officer rank. But that was hardly a deterrent,” she said.
During her Recruitment Training Camp (RTC), Tigga had impressed the firing instructors with her skills in handling guns and earned the top-most position of marksman.
“With her overall performance in the RTC including physical test, drill and firing, she was adjudged the best trainee,” an official said.
It had always been Tigga's dream to join the Army, wear the olive green uniform and fire guns.
“Some of my relatives were in the armed forces and I was always motivated by them to become a part of the Army. I prepared hard to clear the physical tests. I know I have made my family proud by becoming the first woman Army jawan,” she said.