Jammu and Kashmir is afire again. More than the crowds, it is the crowd-control method used by the Central Reserve Police Force that is drawing ire from all quarters. Though pellets are 'non-lethal', the injuries they cause may turn fatal for the victim, as seen in the valley. While the debate on whether pellets should be banned rages on, we take a look at some other crowd-control techniques across the world that were used or considered for use.
Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) and Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio (MEDUSA)
Though both are quite different in nature, the underlying principle is similar—acoustics. LRAD can produce sound so loud that it becomes unbearable to the people in the direction it is pointed at (the sound may be over 150 decibels—the threshold limit of a person is normally 130 decibels). Its range varies from 100m to 2km. It is used by the navy to communicate and also to scare off pirates. LRADs cause nausea, uneasiness and headache.
While LRAD uses sound waves, MEDUSA puts sounds inside one's head... literally, using the microwave audio effect, in which short microwave pulses heat tissue rapidly, and produces a persistent, sound sensation inside the head, which is impossible to block out unless you are out of the range of the device. It is, as per reports, in cold storage. It may cause permanent brain damage.
As the name suggests, the torch-like device is designed to visually impair a person temporarily. It can 'shoot' a continuous or pulsating green beam to up to 2.4km. It might cause uneasiness and nausea, but no permanent damage has been reported yet. It has two models—a flashlight-shaped device called the Guardian and a handgun-shaped Defender. The Personnel Halting And Stimulation Response Rifle (PHASR) also works on the same principle.
Active Denial System
It might look like a harmless outdoor broadcasting van but can 'turn on the heat', if you stand in its way. The vehicle-mounted ADS or the “pain ray” projects a focused beam of short radio waves, which heats the skin of its targets—raising the temperature up to 50 degrees Celsius. Sounds like being in a microwave oven, isn't it? It has a range of up to 500m. Overexposure might cause tissue damage including keloids and even cancer.
An Israeli invention finds a way into this list dominated by Americans. It was first used to disperse protesters in the occupied West Bank region in 2008. The water cannons spray an foul-smelling liquid on the targets. The stench lingers in the air and on the clothes and skin for days. While the Israeli forces claim that it is a mixture of yeast, water and baking powder, the victims describe it as a concoction of “rotting animal corpse, sewage water and human excrement”.
Taser Extended Range Electronic Projectile (Taser XREP)
The taser is an effective weapon for immobilising a target but its range—about 15 feet—has been an area of concern. But a normal 12-gauge shotgun, loaded with XERP cartridges, can bridge the gap. It gives an electric shock of 500 volts through barbed electrodes on the cartridge upon impact, and causes the person's muscles to tense, thus incapacitating him. The shotgun can shoot up to 100 feet.