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Chilli bombs to smoke out terrorists from hiding places

Indian herbs and spices— renowned for their medicinal powers — would now also battle terrorists during peace times and shield the people from effects of any nuclear, biological or chemical weapons attacks during war, reports K Sandeep Kumar.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2009 08:38 IST
K Sandeep Kumar

Indian herbs and spices— renowned for their medicinal powers — would now also battle terrorists during peace times and shield the people from effects of any nuclear, biological or chemical weapons attacks during war.

In a first of its kind initiative, experts of India’s premiere organisation engaged in developing defence technologies— the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)— are busy developing a unique non-lethal “Chilli-Grenade” stuffed with the world’s hottest red chillies ‘bhut jolakia’ of Assam to take on insurgents and rioters. They are also working on herbal protective measures to guard the fallout of the use of nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons by an enemy during a war.

“The trials have been conducted for the chilli hand grenades. It gives out such a pungent smoke that either the person flees or comes out of one’s hiding place,”said DRDO’s Chief Controller (Research and Development) Dr W Selvamurthy.

He was in the city to participate in the Nobel Laureate Science Conclave-09 at the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (IIIT-A).

The chilli bomb is non-lethal. “The smoke from it only brings tears to the person coming in contact and chokes his respiratory tract,” he explained.

The 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, fiery hot Red Savina Habaneros developed in Mexico with a rating of 350,000-580,000 SHUs was regarded the hottest chilli in the world. But we are using Bhut Jolakia chillies which experiments have showed to have a pungency of over a million SHUs,” he added.

Dr Selvamurthy said that in a separate project, the DRDO scientists are also working on finding extracts from herbal plants to produce agents to protect humans against radioactivity. “We are in advance stages of clinical trials of these products. At present there is only one chemical agent available to combat radioactivity, but that is very toxic and therefore dangerous to handle. The herbal products would counter this drawback,” he added

Extracts of two plants, podophylum hexandrum and the well-known seabuckthorn, are being used in the project being undertaken by three different DRDO laboratories at Leh, Delhi and Gwalior,” he explained.