Red hot chillis to be used in hand grenades

Thu Jun 25, 2009 9:59am EDT
 
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By Biswajyoti Das

GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) - India's security forces are planning to mix one of the world's hottest chilli powders in hand grenades to control riots and during insurgency operations in the remote northeast, a defense official said on Thursday.

India's defense scientists say they will replace explosives in small hand grenades with a certain variety of red chilli to immobilize a person without killing him.

"We are working on a project on how to use the hottest chilli in different applications in defense forces," said R.B. Srivastava, a senior scientist at the state-run Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

Scientists said the chilli found in the country's northeast generates so much heat it was enough to startle a person for a while when used as a weapon.

The bhut jolokia chilli is said to generate 1,000,000 heat units on the Scoville scale -- a measure of hotness -- at least a thousand times more than a common kitchen chilli.

The Scoville scale was named after American scientist Wilbur Scoville, the first to measure the heat component in chillies.

The chilli will also be used as a food supplement for soldiers deployed in cold weather conditions to raise their body temperatures, Srivastava said.

Scientists are also hoping to use a coat of the chilli powder in fences around army barracks as its pungent smell keeps wild animals away.

Pepper spray, which contains a chemical derived from peppers, is another commonly used riot control agent in many parts of the world.

(Editing by Bappa Majumdar and Sugita Katyal)