By Arvind Chhabra Chandigarh
Police in India’s Haryana state say they will soon begin using slingshots to control violent protesters.
Policemen are being trained to use the weapons, despite concerns over their safety for crowd control.
Abhishek Jorwal, chief of police in Haryana’s Jind district, told the BBC that the slingshots “were made after a lot of research and development”.
The “specially-designed” slingshots would be in addition to batons, tear gas and other weapons currently in use.
Mr Jorwal said the “idea is to avoid the use of lethal weapons against the protesters”.
“Officers have been instructed to use slingshots and tear gas shells, and keep guns and bullets as the last option.”
Marbles and chilli balls, packed in small bags carried by the policemen, will be used as ammunition for the slingshots.
“Marbles and chilli balls won’t cause any permanent damage but will pack enough punch to push protesters back,” he said.
Handmade weapons, such as slingshots, are rarely used as a weapon by security forces in India.
But the use of non-lethal weapons, such as pellet guns, in trouble-hit areas such as disputed Kashmir has resulted in serious injuries to protesters and bystanders.
Correspondents say there are concerns marbles and other objects fired from police catapults could also badly injure civilians.