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High-end research lab set to lob red chilli bombs

A bomb made out of chillis can take out the enemy. It’s actually much more effective than pepper spray as it disables more people at one go.

Written by Ranjani Raghavan | Pune |
July 30, 2009 3:44:28 am

A bomb made out of chillis can take out the enemy. It’s actually much more effective than pepper spray as it disables more people at one go. This is what scientists at the High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) told Maharashtra’s newest crack commando unit,Force One,last week,when the latter was down at HEMRL for an intensive training session.

“It’s much better than tear gas and it will be extremely useful in any situation,” said Chiranjeev Prasad,Superintendent of Police,Force One.

The OC bomb is actually an advanced version of tear gas. “Tear gas works only on eyes. They can just cover their face with a wet cloth and walk through it. In addition,they just throw a cloth over the tear gas grenade and lob it back at the police,” deputy director Manish Bharadwaj said. But with an OC grenade,the explosives are packed in a plastic case,which begin melting when it is lobbed,makes it difficult for the other side to toss it back.

Prasad did not comment on whether Force One would be placing orders for these OC grenades though; he also refused to speculate if these grenades could have aided operations last November.

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Developed in 2003,the HEMRL scientists have leveraged the pungency quotient of chillis into the making of a hand grenade. In the hands of law enforcement officers,HEMRL scientists say,this palm-sized plastic container could be a potent weapon — ideal for dispersing mobs or as a handy weapon during counter-insurgency operations similar to 26/11.

“It would be wrong on my behalf to comment on what could have helped in combating 26/11 better. At present,we are building Force One; we have placed orders for many items. But we appreciate the effectiveness of this bomb created by HEMRL. If lobbed into a room or bunker,it would aid in flushing out the terrorists. A mob will not be able to stay together,if this grenade is used,” Prasad said.

Tonnes of chillis have to be processed to extract one kg of Capsaicin to make an Oleoresin Capsaicin or OC grenade,Capsaicin being the core of a chilli.

The OC grenade causes unbearable irritation and burning of the skin within a radius of 25 km of the epicenter. Scientists are quick to point out that it is not lethal. “It does not kill anyone,it incapacitates them so that they can be apprehended. These grenades also do not cause toxicity or pollute the environment,” said Amarjit Singh,acting director of HEMRL.

HEMRL scientists said they had received positive feedback from the Army,the Border Security Force and the Police. However,no one seems to have placed orders. At present,this technology has been transferred to Premier Explosives Limited,a private firm based out of Hyderabad. Srinivasa Rao,director of Premier Explosives,said they too had demonstrated its use to the Army.

“They had asked us for a few modifications,which we completed six months ago. We are waiting for them to get back,” Rao said.

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