Policemen in an Assam district allegedly tortured two teenage boys, accused of stealing mobile phone recharge cards, by rubbing the world’s hottest chilli on their bodies and forcing it down their throats.
Last Sunday, a team led by Jitumoni Bora, officer in charge of the Nitaiphukuri outpost in Sivasagar district, 370 km northeast of Guwahati, picked up Lakhinda Hazarika and his cousin Kumud Phukan, both teenagers, from their homes in Duworisiga village in the same district.
They were sent to judicial custody the next day after having been allegedly stripped and tortured all night.
The hottest chilli, known as bhot jolokia or naga jolokia, grown only in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur, stands at 1,041, 047 heat units on the Scoville scale, by which the piquancy – or ‘hotness’ – of chilli is measured. The common green chilli records 1,500 on the same scale.
Bhot jolokia is currently used in some parts of Assam to make small bombs used to frighten away raiding wild elephants from fields.
The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is also working on bhot jolokia as the main ingredient in non-lethal hand grenades.
Residents of Duworisiga village also claimed the charge against the two boys could well be fabricated.
“The complaint was made by one Biren Phukan, who has a long standing feud with his neighbour and Lakhinda’s father, Debu Hazarika,” said a resident who did not want to be named.
“We’ve ordered an enquiry,” said Kumar Sanjit Krishna, additional superintendent of police, Sivasagar district. “But we have reason to think the incident has been blown out of all proportion.”