PAVA bombs made of chilli (mirch) to replace pellet guns in Kashmir

To tackle stone throwing incidents in Kashmir, Indian Border Security Force (BSF) will now use a new type of bomb containing world’s hottest chilli powder, instead of explosives. These bombs are being produced in Gwalior city of Madhya Pradesh. The initiative has been taken to reduce injuries.

pavaThere will be a thumb-size pocket containing chilli powder inside each bomb with a tear-shell like shape. It will explode like a hand grenade and immobilise the agitators. BSF officials have already started using the bomb on a trial basis.

It was first made by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Later, the BSF started manufacturing the bomb in their factories using DRDO’s formula.

BSF officials claimed that they had long been working to reduce the use of deadly weapons in tackling border deaths. But in their efforts to minimise the casualty, they found that infiltrators were dying even from shots of a light weapon.

An expert panel constituted by the Home Ministry to find an alternative to pellet guns for crowd control following uproar against their use in Kashmir has zeroed in on ‘PAVA shells’; a chilli-based ammunition which is less lethal and immobilises the target temporarily.

The committee held a demonstration of the newly developed shells at a test field in New Delhi earlier this week and gave the thumbs up for use by security forces for crowd control and during protests like those being witnessed in the Kashmir Valley.

bombThe ‘PAVA shells’, as per the blueprint prepared in this regard and accessed by PTI, were under trial for over a year at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) laboratory in Lucknow, and its full development has come at a time when Kashmir is on the boil.

Sources close to the committee said it has favoured ‘PAVA shells’ as an alternative to pellet guns and has recommended that the Tear Smoke Unit (TSU) of the BSF in Gwalior should be tasked with bulk production of the shells “immediately”, with the first lot of not less than 50,000 rounds.

The name ‘PAVA’ stands for Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide, also called Nonivamide, and is a organic compound found characteristically in natural chilli pepper. On the Scoville scale (the degree to measure the power of chilli), PAVA is categorised as “above peak” meaning it will severely irritate and paralyse humans, but only temporarily.

It is also used as a food additive to add pungency, flavouring and spicy effect to food. The committee, the blueprint said, found that ‘PAVA’ can be categorised in the less-lethal munition category.

Once fired, the shells burst and temporarily stun, immobilise and paralyse the target (protestors) in a more effective way than a tear gas shell or pepper spray.

The panel noted that PAVA is “biosafe, better than a chilli grenade or tear smoke shell and can also be used in combination with stun and tear shells” by security forces while tackling unruly protesters.

The committee also analysed and is understood to have recommended the supply of few other non-lethal/less-lethal munition to security forces personnel deployed for crowd control in the Kashmir Valley and other similar situations elsewhere.

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