India using chilli, stun grenades to stop influx of Rohingya
India has stepped up security along its largely porous eastern border with Bangladesh and is using "chilli and stun grenades" to block the entry of Rohingya Muslims fleeing from violence in their homeland of Myanmar, officials said yesterday.
Border forces in Hindu-majority India, which wants to deport around 40,000 Rohingya already living in the country, citing security risks, have been authorised to use "rude and crude" methods to stop any infiltration attempts.
"We don't want to cause any serious injury or arrest them, but we won't tolerate Rohingya on Indian soil," said a senior official with the Border Security Force (BSF) in New Delhi.
"We're using grenades containing chilli spray to stop hundreds of Rohingyas trying to enter India ... the situation is tense," added the official, who declined to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to media.
More than 420,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since August 25, when a coordinated attack by Rohingya insurgents on Myanmar security forces triggered a counter-offensive, killing at least 400 people, mainly militants.
The United Nations has called the assault a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".
Densely populated Bangladesh is struggling to shelter all the refugees desperate for space to set up shacks, sparking worries in India that the influx could spill into its territory.
RPS Jaswal, a deputy inspector general of the BSF patrolling a large part of the border in India's eastern state of West Bengal, said his troops were told to use both chilli grenades and stun grenades to push back the Rohingya.
A chilli grenade makes use of a naturally occurring compound in chilli powder to cause severe irritation and temporarily immobilise its target. (© Reuters)