Sunday, 26 September 2010

Agitating protestors are in for a shock


Police forces from several states, including J&K, are evaluating the non-lethal Taser to help quell civil unrest.







by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 27th Sept 10

It may prove a major step towards ending the use of lethal force against protestors by the police. Or it could be, in the worlds of Amnesty International, "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment which is absolutely prohibited under international law".

In secret trials on September 9th, at the National Security Guard (NSG) headquarters at Manesar, near Delhi, seven volunteers from the NSG were shot turn-by-turn with non-lethal Taser guns in different parts of their bodies. Temporarily paralysed by a 50,000-volt shock, the hardened commandoes crumpled to the floor, unable to move, speak or react in any way.

The Taser, marketed by US-based Taser International, uses compressed gas to shoot a tiny copper barb to a distance of 30 feet. After penetrating a couple of millimetres into the targeted individual, a high-voltage electric shock is administered through a trailing wire.

This effectively shuts down all muscular control; he or she can see, hear and think, but the body is utterly unable to react to commands from the brain. Taser International calls this “neuromuscular incapacitation”.

Indian interest in the Taser has been kindled by the deaths of more than a hundred protestors in police firing in Kashmir over the summer, and in the agitation against land acquisition in UP. The trials at the NSG this month were witnessed by several state police forces and by Indian Army officers.

The NSG has already floated a tender for 200 non-lethal weapons, to deploy with sky marshals in airliners and for anti-hijacking operations.

Sources say another 600 non-lethal weapons will be bought for the NSG’s regional hubs.

Taser International, which has a 20-year patent from the Indian government, points out that the Kashmir situation might never have arisen had the police been armed with Tasers.

Says Paramjit Singh, who is heading Taser International’s operations in India: “Currently, India’s police forces are equipped only to kill. The Taser would let them subdue agitated citizens without the political and legal complications that are caused by firing live bullets at unarmed civilians. Every law enforcement officer should have the option of using a non-lethal weapon.”

Paramjit Singh also highlights the “Kasab advantage” that the Taser facilitates. He refers to the capture of Pakistani terrorist, Ajmal Kasab, whose interrogation provided crucial details of the Mumbai terror attack of 26th Nov 2008.

The police seem to agree. State police forces from J&K, Punjab, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, and also the Indo Tibetan Border Police, have shown interest or placed orders for the Taser. The UP Police have also conducted an NSG-style trial, where constables were shot to evaluate the Taser.

But Tasers are also controversial, with critics claiming that the device has already caused 245 deaths worldwide. The United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) concluded in 2007, that the use of the Taser gun constitutes a "form of torture" and "can even provoke death." Last year, after persistent allegations that Taser shocks interfere with heartbeat rhythms, particularly in people with pacemakers, Taser International advised law enforcement agencies to aim below the centre of the chest.

There has been no word yet on the NSG commandos or UP policemen who were shot during Taser trials. The BBC, however, broadcast a video, on 17th May 2007, of Michael Todd, the head of Greater Manchester Police, England, demonstrating his confidence in the Taser by allowing himself to be shot in the back. The police chief, who fell forward onto his chest, admitted after recovering: “I couldn't move, it hurt like hell… I wouldn't want to do that again.”

Nevertheless, the NSG is impressed with the Taser, which is also used by several police forces around the world, such as the UK police, which have bought at least 10,000 Tasers. Experienced NSG commandos point out that a terrorist, even fatally wounded with a gunshot, can continue fighting, sometimes for hours. With the Taser, however, suppression is instant. The weapon is especially attractive for NSG sky marshals, since firing a bullet in an airliner risks perforating the fuselage and depressurising the cabin.

The Taser system, which was on display at the INDESEC exhibition in the capital earlier this month, comes in various models. The recently launched multi-shot Taser X3 can fire 3 probes in succession, a crucial facility when presented with more than one threat simultaneously.

In the United States it is legal for a civilian to carry a Taser C2 for self-defence. This is not considered a firearm because the cartridge uses gas, not gunpowder, to launch the probes. Taser advertises the C2, retailed at US $1200, and with a range of 15 feet, as superior to a stun gun, which must be in physical contact with the target; and to pepper spray, which is only effective to 6 feet away.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

The human rights argument is difficult to swallow. What does the UN want? Because tasers are not always safe should we stick to real guns? There are other non lethal crowed control technologies available in the international market as well, like 'pain ray' and 'sound laser'. Ideally the government should have invested in them long ago. If only we could learn to act before a disaster.

Anonymous said...

Good for subduing individual targets,but not really of any use against agitating mobs.

Our police require modern riot control equipment, proper shields,helmets and protective clothing.Also better riot control vehicles with capability of rapid discharge of tear gas from inside the vehicle. I think most Indian riot vehicles require the operator to fire from outside the vehicle through a hatch.Better protected and heavier vehicles can engage rioters closer and more effectively.
Individual protection,equipment and training are also essential as lot of trouble spots in India are in congested areas where vehicles may not have easy access or can be easily trapped and ambushed.

Anonymous said...

Maybe useful for sky marshals but will be absolutely useless for controlling stone throwing/rioting mobs unless you find one stupid enough to throw stones 15-20 feet away from the police/paramils.

ABHISHEK said...

IT'S GOT VERY LESS RANGE JUST 15 FEET.HOW WOULD POLICE CONTROL A AGGRESSIVE MOB OF PROTESTERS ARMED WITH STONES AND WHICH PROVIDE THEM ESSENTIAL COVER WITH A MERE TOY LIKE THIS. ONES FIRED IT WOULD REQUIRE A RELOAD WHICH CLAIMS ABOUT 20 SECONDS ON A SINGLE TARGET NOT LIKE SHOTGUN.IT SEEMS TO BE QUITE RISKY TO GO SUCH CLOSER DISTANCE AND DEPLOY IT.USEFUL FOR SWATS AGAINST A SINGLE HOSTILE BUT IT IMPLIES MULTIPLE HOSTILES IN GROUP.MY PERSONAL OPINION IS TO USE RUBBER BULLETS THEY ARE NONLETHAL ROUNDS AND CAUSE HUGE PAIN AND SEEMS QUITE VENERABLE IN SUCH A CONDITION.

Anonymous said...

Its common practice in USA to use Taser as non lethal force. I have one and carries sometimes in night. I am not sure whether I can take it to India while traveling . Guys , any one have an idea ?

Mr. Ra said...

It is safe and it is not a weapon of mass extinction.

It may be useful for special counter-terror units only for the first strike.

Anonymous said...

highway and bank robbers and other thieves will have a field day if its available in the market!!!of course!! rapists beware!!!

Anonymous said...

Robert Dziekanski, a Polish national died due to Taser incident at Vancouver Airport

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Dzieka%C5%84ski_Taser_incident

Anonymous said...

Lol Ajay - Shiv has started your most famous qiuz contest. A copy cat - albeit he gave your reference!

Anonymous said...

I hate tazers. Terribly inhumane. So foolish to have this in India, can you imagine this technology escaping into the wrong hands? Our police, with their terrible human rights record, will be using it one very rickshaw-wallah and high school kid who argues with him. Now watch as we become an inhumane society like our great heroes, the Americans.

Anonymous said...

Why are the Americans inhumane? Unlike Indian Police, they do not have their police beating people with a stick for no reason. Ocasionally when they do such a low life act, it becomes a major story on the headline news, and most likely results in an eventual job loss, or some corrective action, for the cop. Police in the US does not beat suspects even after apprehension, while this is something that is not out of the ordinary in India. I myself have had a beating while riding my Luna in the 1990s, you know why, because the cop was trying to hit someone with his dunda and me missed.... it hit me, I was only 17 at the time. as per a recent TV news report (either Zee or Sony TV)even the Mumbai police is not willing to arm every single cop with a gun because they are afraid that the common constable who never carried a gun, will start using it like his stick and they will have a huge human rights issue to deal with. My point is stop name calling, that is not the solution.

I agree that Tazer can only be used at a short distance and is good for one person/ tazer. I have no idea how they expect to controll a crowd with tazer, unless there is a new product that shoots thousands of electrodes after the first has been shot (like arrows multiplying in Ramayana TV series).

Anonymous said...

Mr. shukla
do u have any update on the health of the commandoes ??
i hope they r doing fine now.

Sai said...

Can they also use the Sound cannons or sonic devices?

where is that chilli grenade?


Sai

Anonymous said...

It boggles my mind. If the central government and several states are going to give lucrative contracts to this company why doesn't the government simply quietly tell Mahindra's or or Essar or Birla's to buy this company. Taser International only has revenue of $100 million. Do you doubt Taiwan or Israel in a similar scenario would not simply prompt one of their private firms to simply buy it out. And it would add to the R&D base of our country. If our Indian companies had assurance that some lucrative contracts were on the way they would not mine acquiring it, as it will add to their product portfolio and R & D base. A few weeks ago A.K Antony flew to South Korea and signed agreements and praised South Korean private industry for its prowess in prcision engineering. What Mr.Antony does not seem to understand is that that the governments of Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Israel etc. back their private industries through reimbursment for R&D, low interest loans, direct funding by the government for "core national technologies" etc. How else do you think a small island like Taiwan has 20 tablet manufacturers where as India has 1 or 2. Can't we at least have some common sense. Taser technology is NOT strategic "black box" technology and I don't think it would come under review by the Commitee on Foreign Investment in The United States (C.I.F.I.U.S). Our R.A.W/National Security establishment should collaborate in certain instances with private industry to acquire companies with low end technologies which in turn will contribute to Brand India and provide seed technology upon which our savvy private firms can build upon.