A common weapon used by soldiers in armies across the world, the rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) is in the limelight after it was fired at the highly secure building of the intelligence wing of the Punjab Police. The state is on high alert after the incident that took place on Monday evening and shattered windowpanes of the third floor of the building. The grenade, however, landed inside the building but did not explode.

Chief minister Bhagwant Mann has promised strictest punishment for the perpetrators, while the Punjab Police has said it has leads and will solve the case soon.

What is an RPG?

An RPG, or a rocket-propelled grenade, is a shoulder-fired missile weapon. Its biggest advantage is that it can be carried by an individual soldier and is frequently used by personnel guarding high-security buildings or facilities. The easy-to-use and high-impact weapon is preferred by insurgents and terrorist groups looking to create a panic situation.

Loaded from the front, the warheads are affixed to a rocket motor that propels the grenade towards the target. Made in the Soviet era, these are considered anti-tank weapons and are effective against lightly armoured vehicles.

What is the Punjab Police saying about the weapon?

Director general of police VK Bhawra after a meeting with senior officials said the explosive used in the suspected RPG seems to be TNT (trinitrotoluene).

The rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) was fired at the third floor of the highly-guarded building in Mohali’s Sector 77 on Monday night and the explosion shattered window panes. No one was injured in the incident. “There was nobody in the room when this incident occurred. The impact was on the wall,” the DGP said.

Types of RPGs

The origin of the RPG dates back to World War 1. Western military powers have developed several such weapons. But experts believe that the RPG is the most prolific one and it is used in almost every major insurgency or terror affected region across the globe.

There were Soviet weapons preceding the rocket-propelled grenade which were also designated with the “RPG” acronym (RPG-40, RPG-43 and RPG-6) but those were anti-tank hand grenades and not launchers. The projectile of RPG launchers is similarly designated PG, (PG-7, etc.), which similarly stands for “anti-tank grenade”.

According to the National Museum of the US Air Force, the RPG-7 has become a weapon of choice among terrorists and insurgents. Somali militiamen used RPG-7s to down two US Army helicopters in Mogadishu in 1993. The RPG-7 is commonly used by enemy forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, who employ them against vehicle convoys, checkpoints and helicopters.

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