Imagine the worst, most foul thing you have ever smelled. An overpowering mix of rotting meat, old socks that haven’t been washed for weeks—topped off with the pungent waft of an open sewer. Imagine being covered in the stuff as it is liberally sprayed from a water cannon. Then imagine not being able to get rid of the stench for at least three days, no matter how often you try to scrub yourself clean ...’ That is how a BBC report described Israel’s innovative non-lethal but highly effective weapon, meant for use against rioters, way back in 2008. For years, security forces worldwide have been grappling with how to deal with violent protests while causing the least amount of injuries.
That is the main dilemma facing our forces in Kashmir, where stone-pelting mobs battling our forces is almost a daily routine. When the standard tear gas and lathi-charges don’t work, the forces use what are called pellet guns. And these have caused blindness and other injuries, sparking outrage from rights activists, and leading to attempts to put blinders on top of the gun to prevent pellets from spraying upwards. But perhaps there are other non-lethal ways to tame rampaging mobs.
The Skunk Gun, as the Israeli weapon is called, is just one of them. And the best part? It contains “No illegal chemicals ... just a thoroughly disgusting mix of yeast, baking powder and a few other “secret” ingredients”. Another is a sonic weapon, essentially high-power ultrasound waves which can cause severe pain or disorientation, or nausea in small doses.
There are also sprays which turns the ground so slippery that rioters can’t even run. All these have already been tested by security agencies around the world, with mixed effects. Of course, activists will protest that forces have no right to spray innocent civilians with foul-smelling products, or tamper with their auditory processes. But compare that with being hit by pellets, or even the choking effects of tear gas or pepper spray. Which would the rioters prefer?