Indian police's hot new weapon: Chilli-loaded slingshots

NEW DELHI • Police in northern India will soon use slingshots loaded with chilli powder and marbles to tackle unruly protesters in the world's largest democracy, an inspector said yesterday.

Not content with water cannon, tear gas and traditional wooden sticks or lathis, police in Haryana state, close to New Delhi, will turn to the slingshots as a "non-lethal way" to control violent crowds.

"It is much better than firing plastic bullets which can cause pretty bad injuries," said police inspector-general of Hisar district Anil Kumar Rao, who came up with the idea. "It will be used only in emergency cases so that we can manage minimum collateral damage."

The locally made slingshots are the latest in a series of unconventional measures adopted by security forces in India, which sees daily protests on a myriad of issues. Some quickly escalate out of control. In April last year, police in the northern city of Lucknow said they were introducing pepper-spraying drones to control "mob crowds".

Critics say the marbles could cause serious injury, but Mr Rao said they would be used sparingly and only after the "chilli balls" failed.

"We have to step in and take certain action when people are burning government property, cars. This is a very, very positive step - a civilised, cost-effective weapon."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2016, with the headline 'Indian police's hot new weapon: Chilli-loaded slingshots'. Print Edition | Subscribe