Traditionally used to set palates on fire, Assam’s bhot jolokia will now lend firepower to chilli-bombs to check trans-border crime and illegal influx.
Chilli-loaded bombs were devised three years ago by the Defence Research and Development Organisation to keep wild elephants off paddy fields and farms in Assam.
They have now been fine-tuned for the Border Security Force. The BSF experimented with repellents using chilli powder following restrictions on using bullets along the 4,096 km India-Bangladesh border.
Protests from Dhaka-based human rights groups accusing the BSF of killing some 50 Bangladeshis – six this year – on the border, led to the focus shift to non-lethal weapons.
“Chilli-filled repellents to ward off infiltrators, cattle and contraband smugglers and criminals of other shades are in the pipeline,” said PK Wahal, inspector-general of BSF’s Assam Frontier, on Tuesday.
At present, the BSF is mainly using stun grenades, die markers and pellet guns, which have limitations. “Used for large groups, pellets get embedded in the body and are difficult to extract, but can be lethal if fired from close range,” a senior BSF officer said.
The prime ingredient for chilli grenades and bombs – which blur vision and make eyes water – is bhot jolokia, one of the world’s hottest chillies grown in Assam and Nagaland.