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Female soldiers were sent to the restive region for the first time in May, but critics say the military still has a long way to go on gender equality. India has deployed female soldiers to the restive Indian-administered Kashmir region for the first time, in a bid to improve local relations and promote gender equality within the ranks of its paramilitary. However, the efforts have drawn widespread criticism and questions over how effective the move is, both in strengthening ties with local women and improving gender equality within the armed forces. In May, India’s Federal Home Ministry quietly shifted an armed battalion of Assam Rifles (a paramilitary force) comprising several women from the northeastern state of Manipur to Kashmir. The 34th battalion was stationed at Ganderbal, about 38 kilometers (23.6 miles) north of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir.

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