Thu, Mar 25, 2010 - Page 5 News List

India to use world’s hottest chili as a weapon

GHOST CHILI The bhut jolokia, reportedly strong enough to stop an elephant, will be used to make teargas-like grenades to immobilize suspects, officials said

THE GUARDIAN AND AP , LONDON AND GAUHATI, INDIA

Ever since the Trojan Horse — and probably long before — men have bent their minds to developing the ultimate secret weapon. Now, at last, the Indian army just might have discovered it: the world’s hottest chili pepper.

The Indian army believes the pungency of its ground seeds of the bhut jolokia, or “ghost chili” — a capsicum hybrid, growing around the banks of the Brahmaputra river, that is reputed to be 100 times hotter than a jalapeno — could be harnessed in smoke grenades against rioters or to flush out terrorists in confined spaces.

The army said that the weapon could also be used in aerosol sprays by women warding off attackers.

The vegetable is said to be ­powerful enough to deter a charging elephant.

The bhut jolokia was accepted by Guinness World Records in 2007 as the world’s spiciest chili. The 7cm long stubbly red pepper has been measured at 1,041,427 units on the Scoville scale, twice as hot as the next-fieriest pepper, the Mexican red savina, and 200 times hotter than tabasco sauce. A jalapeno, by contrast, registers a measly 10,000 on the Scoville scale.

It is grown and eaten in India’s northeast for its taste, as a cure for stomach troubles and a way to fight the crippling summer heat.

“The chili grenade has been found fit for use after trials in Indian defense laboratories, a fact confirmed by scientists at the Defense Research and Development Organization,” Colonel R. Kalia, a defense spokesman in the northeastern state of Assam, told reporters.

“This is definitely going to be an effective nontoxic weapon because its pungent smell can choke terrorists and force them out of their hideouts,” said R.B. Srivastava, the director of the Life Sciences Department at the New Delhi headquarters of the Defense Research and Development Organization.

Srivastava, who led a defense research laboratory in Assam, said trials are also on to produce bhut jolokia-based aerosol sprays to be used by women against attackers and for the police to control and disperse mobs.

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