Chilli bomb to smoke out insurgents

With the pattern of wars around the world changing to more low-intensity conflicts, the DRDO is testing hand grenades stuffed with Bhut Jolakia chillies from Assam—termed the world’s hottest chillies.

“The trials have been done for the hand grenades. It gives out such pungent smoke that it makes one come out of one’s hiding place,” R B Srivastava, Director, Directorate of Life Sciences in DRDO, said.    

The bomb is non-lethal. It is just that the smoke from it brings tears to the person coming in contact and chokes his respiratory tract. “War scenario is changing. The paramilitary forces face the problem of forcing the terrorists out of their hideouts. We wanted to find a non-lethal way to tackle the insurgents and the mob during riot controls,” he added.

Srivastava was the head of the Defence Research Laboratory in Tezpur, Assam, that found out that the Bhut Jolakia chillies were the hottest in the world. The hotness or pungency of a chilli is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHUs), that is, the amount of capsaicin (a chemical compound that stimulates nerve endings in the skin) present.

Until recently, Red Savina Habaneros developed in Mexico, with a rating of 350,000-580,000 SHUs, was regarded the hottest chilli. In 2000, the DRL claimed that it had discovered a chilli with a pungency of 850,000 SHUs. Later experiments by independent scientists showed that the pungency of the Bhut Jolakia chillies measured over a million SHUs.

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