The world's hottest chilli could soon become part of India's defence armoury with scientists trying to develop teargas canisters and hand grenades by mixing the fiery pepper to control riots and combat separatists, officials on Saturday said.
A defence spokesperson said scientists at various Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratories were working on a project of developing hand grenades and other repellants to deal with terrorists and rioters by using Bhut Jolokia, recognised by the Guiness World Records as the hottest of all spices.
"We had already carried out trials for the hand grenades mixed with the world's hottest chilli and so far the tests are quite positive and satisfactory," R B Srivastava, a senior scientist and director of the DRDO's Life Sciences department said.
Bhut Jolokia belongs to the Capsicum Chinese family and native to Assam.
The hotness of the Bhut Jolokia, measured in Scoville heat units was 1,001,304. It's nearly twice as hot as Mexico's Red Savina (577,000), the variety it replaced as the hottest. By comparison, a New Mexico green chilli contains about 1,500 Scoville units, while an average jalapeno measures at about 10,000.
"Work is on at different DRDO laboratories to develop other such things using Bhut Jolokia for effective utilisation by security forces in dealing with riots and tackling insurgency and terrorists," Srivastava said.
The non-lethal grenades devised by the DRDO could numb the enemy and immobilize them without seriously wounding or klling them.
"When used, the hand grenades mixed with chilli powder could be a really effective and potent weapon," the scientist said.
There were also plans to use Bhut Jolokia paste or powder in teargas shells for dispersing violent protests or rioters.
"We are also trying for a scientific validation to find out if Bhut Jolokia could be incorporated into the food menu for soldiers in higher reaches to keep them warm," Srivastava said.
And the chilli powder would also be rubbed on the fences around army barracks in the hope the strong smell would keep animals out of bounds.
"The chilli paste could also act as a major repellant against wild elephants in some parts of Assam and other northeastern states," the scientist said.
A kilogram of Bhut Jolokia sells at about Rs 250.