The Delhi Police, often accused of using excessive force, are introducing Taser guns and other non-lethal arms that will allow them to work without endangering lives, sources said.
The city police were in the process of procuring Taser guns that would help them nab suspects by incapacitating them, or stunning them, temporarily by administering electric shock, sources said.
“When fired, this non-lethal weapon releases electro-magnetic pulse that will paralyze the central nervous system of the suspect, leaving the person in a foetal position on the ground for almost 15 seconds,” Rajesh Malik, special commissioner of police (provision and logistics), said.
The first lot of five Tasers -- Taser X2 priced at Rs 1 lakh each -- is expected Tuesday from the US-based manufacturer, making the Delhi Police the first law enforcement agency in the country to use non-lethal weapons.
The force’s special cell came under fire when Manoj Vashisht, an alleged conman wanted in several cases of cheating, was killed during an alleged gunfight at a city restaurant.
Senior police officials felt Vashisht could have been caught alive had the police managed to incapacitate him, sources said. It was then they decided to get Taser-like conducted electrical weapons.
To begin with, Tasers would be used during VIP security, chasing a suspect after dark or vehicle-checks in the night.
Taser X2 fires two small darts attached with copper wires to deliver electric current that pierces through the clothes of a target, creating neuromuscular incapacitation of the body, Malik said. The “target” returns to normal after 15 to 20 seconds, enough time for the police to act.
It comes with two laser lights, indicating where the darts will hit and a video camera that starts recording as soon as the trigger is touched.
Experts from Scottsdale, Arizona-based Taser International, which manufactures and sells conducted electrical weapons, will hold a week-long training programme in Delhi. The force planned to buy at least 100 Tasers and could increase the numbers after gauging the performance, sources said.
Bean bag rounds, or flexible baton rounds, could be the next addition to non-lethal munitions. These rounds -- lead shots embedded in fabric -- are propelled by a shotgun and cause minimum long-term trauma without penetration. They cause a muscle spasm and make a suspect immobile for a short period.
Tasers are used worldwide and considered a safe option but there have been injury concerns. Tasers can harm elderly and children and even cause death especially of those with a heart condition or other health concerns.