Stink to battle Valley stones

The government has imported stink bombs from Israel to quell stone-throwers in Kashmir, hoping to stun with stench where other weapons have only stirred up more trouble.

By Imran Ahmed Siddiqui
  • Published 18.05.17

New Delhi, May 17: The government has imported stink bombs from Israel to quell stone-throwers in Kashmir, hoping to stun with stench where other weapons have only stirred up more trouble.

Sources in the security establishment said the "non-lethal" bombs - used by the Israeli army to keep Palestinian protesters at bay - would soon be tried in the Valley, where pellets fired from guns last year had left many dead and blinded hundreds.

"Stink bombs are non-lethal munitions used for crowd control and maintaining law and order by the Israeli army. They have been procured from a company in Israel and will soon be put on trial in Jammu and Kashmir to rein in stone-pelters," a senior Intelligence Bureau official said.

The bombs - which smell like decomposed bodies and raw sewage - can be sprayed from water cannons. The stench is so powerful that it sticks to the clothes and bodies of protesters for days.

The bombs are also called Skunk - most likely after the North American mammal known for their ability to spray a liquid with a strong, unpleasant odour. Among Palestinians, the liquid in the bomb is known as "shit".

A CRPF official said stink bombs were non-toxic. "They don't have any side-effects but those who are hit find it difficult to get the smell out of their clothes and bodies for four-five days. Police in the US have also started using the bombs as part of crowd-control measures," the official said.

The Narendra Modi government's decision to procure stink bombs comes in the backdrop of the Supreme Court's suggestion to the Centre last month to devise alternative methods to control protesters in Jammu and Kashmir, sources said.

Earlier, home minister Rajnath Singh had promised to use "less lethal munitions".

Pellets, which were introduced in the Valley as a non-lethal alternative to bullets, had left a dozen people dead and 300-odd blinded in at least one eye in the protests last summer that followed the encounter death of militant poster boy Burhan Wani.

The CRPF, which has 60,000 personnel deployed in the Valley to assist the local police in maintaining law and order and conduct counter-terrorism operations, had faced criticism for the deaths and eye injuries.

"We have used chilli grenades, plastic shell tear smoke, stun grenades, colour-smoke grenades, rubber bullets, dye-marker grenades with skin irritant and multi-tier tear-gas launchers, but they did not yield the desired result," a home ministry official said. "Let's see how the stink bombs work out."

Former Border Security Force chief Prakash Singh said the idea of using stink bombs in the Valley appeared to be "innovative and interesting".

"Stink bombs should be experimented with on the ground to see if they are effective, considering the adverse reaction of pellet guns," he said.

But an official at the BSF's Tear Smoke Unit, which makes all non-lethal, crowd-control munitions for the security forces except for pellets, was not sure whether stink bombs would be effective in Kashmir.

"We have heard that the Centre has procured them from Israel. It might raise a controversy as this could hurt religious sentiments," he said.

According to Islam, those offering namaz should maintain physical purity.

"Whether it will be effective or not, remains to be seen," the official added. "But it will certainly raise a stink."