Govt says no to Basant yet again | Pakistan Today

Govt says no to Basant yet again

LAHORE: Kite-flying enthusiasts this year too would not be able to celebrate their favourite festival as the Punjab chief minister has rejected the Municipal Corporation Lahore’s (MCL) summary, Pakistan Today has learnt.

The kite flying lovers, civil society and members of the All Pakistan Kite Association (APKF) this year too did their best to convince the government to lift the ban imposed on the Basant kite flying festival. Like previous years, they once again started putting in all their efforts since the beginning of the year and were hopeful that the government would allow them to celebrate the event in the ongoing year.

Sources privy to the development told Pakistan Today that the MCL in its meeting last week had passed a resolution to celebrate a safe Basant on February 26. They said that a summary including the standing operating procedures (SOPs) and suggestions regarding a safe Basant was sent to the CM for approval.

“These SOPs were regarding the use of sharp or glass coated string and the safety of the bikers,” they added.

However, they said, the chief minister like previous years, this year too rejected the proposal.

Lahore Mayor Col (r) Mubashar Javed told this scribe that to lift the Basant ban, various committees were formed that came up with different suggestions to celebrate the festival safely. However, he said, most of the members of the MCL were not in favour to allow the celebration and that was why the ban wasn’t lifted.

It is pertinent to mention here that a ray of hope in this regard was brought when Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashhood Khan in 2017 had said that the people of Lahore will celebrate Basant in the forthcoming spring season. However, later CM Shehbaz had said that no permission would be given and the authorities have decided not to lift the decade-long ban.

Basant celebrations were once a hallmark tradition of the city, in which people from not just Lahore but from across the country used to participate. The centuries-old festival other than being an entertainment opportunity was also the only source of income for the kite-makers across the province.

“The people associated with this business have now been forced to live in poverty,” said APKFA President Khawaja Nadeem Saeed Wayeen while speaking to Pakistan Today.

The festival gradually became controversial with the passage of time as several deaths and injuries due to the usage of sharp kite string were reported.

After deaths in various parts of Punjab, particularly in Lahore, the Supreme Court (SC) in 2005 decided to ban the spring celebrations while taking a suo moto action. Despite SC orders, the people of the provincial capital continued celebrating the festival, which resulted in a further rise in the number of deaths.

Renowned social activist Mian Yousuf Salahuddin while speaking to Pakistan Today said that he had presented various suggestions in a bid to get the ban lifted, but all in vain. We had even proposed that a safe string provided by the government be used for kite flying, but the approval was still not given.

In the past, all deaths were reported from the areas adjacent to the main roads and not even a single causality was reported in the Walled City of Lahore, he said.

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