Kite flying potential threat to human life

When death comes from the sky

Kite flying is no more enjoyable leisure. It has become a dangerous pastime. In the wake of macabre incident of deaths in Faisalabad and Sargodha due to metal string, Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz showed indignation and grief over the loss of precious lives.

She further directed IGP Punjab Dr Usman Anwar to apprehend the criminals involved in the dangerous sport. The Faisalabad Police, under the perspicacious command of RPO Dr. Muhammad Abid Khan, arrested the five accused in the case of deceased Asif Ashfaq through human intelligence and employing technical sources, including monitoring of more than 37 cameras. Kite flying has been prohibited through Punjab Prohibition of Dangerous kite flying Activities Ordinance 2001, due to increasing death and injuries.

The disadvantages of kite flying have transcended the spirit of pleasant sport. The CM has shown determination to end this deadly activity that once was celebrated with great fanfare. The casualties caused by kite flying have accrued a noisome and horrible impact on society. As per reports, kite flying has claimed 3 precious lives in the last two months and injured dozens of people, which is a really gruesome figure.

Given the grievous hurt and death caused by kite flying, it is an undeniable fact that it is no longer a recreational activity. Though some segments of society view that there should be some relaxation for safe kite flying keeping the sentiment and enthusiasm of people rather having a broad prohibition of kite flying. However, the perils are galore. Kite flying is not only dangerous for people but also for birds and other animals. The responsible must be taken to task and crackdown against the violators must be sustained and culminated to the logical end

Undoubtedly, the fatalities due to kite flying are a colossal failure of governance. kite flying was prohibited firstly in 2005 due to its worst impacts on society. After banning in 2005, twice permission was given for kite flying but again a blanket ban was  imposed in 2009. The legal regime is crystal clear as the violators will get six month imprisonment with a fine of up to Rs 100,000.

Earlier, kite flying was the celebration of the arrival of the spring season. It was a festivity marking the gathering of relatives and friends. It also promoted tourism as the guests used to visit Pakistan to enjoy the Basant festival. But, with the passage of time, this fun sport took the form of a blood sport.

Greed overpowers the pleasant sport. In order to get more profit, the manufacturers started using metal string to augment the enthusiasm and rivalry during kite flying. Aerial firing had become a permanent feature of Basant. Children running after stray kites caused accidents. The usage of metallic string increased the ratio of electrocution. The scenario is really horrible. Furthermore, the usage of Nylon and plastic Manja, Chemical string, and prominently kite Manja coated the cotton thread with a mix of glue and crushed glass, are a redoubtable mixture which causes the death of commuters, because this deadly mixture makes the thread unbreakable but cuts the neck of innocent motorcycle and cycle riders.

In view of precious loss of life in Faisalabad, RPO Dr. Muhammad Abid Khan took the judicious decision to adopt a zero-tolerance policy against the kite flying violators. As per data, Faisalabad region police registered 2710 cases and arrested 2715 accused, including vendors and manufacturers. As many as 254,321 kites and 7214 bundle of kite strings were seized. Likewise, a massive crackdown is ongoing across the province.

As kite flying is prohibited, there is a dire need to curb this menace with an iron hand. Simply banning kite flying is not a perfect solution as the people resort to surreptitious and stealthy kite flying and manufacturing practices. Moreover, the community is insensitive to the perils of kite flying. Given the grim situation, it has become necessary to eradicate this nasty practice by using all possible measures. No one can gainsay the fact that human life is most precious and no compromise can be made at the cost of human life.

Banning kite-flying requires a whole-of-society approach. The community should play a proactive role in the eradication of this menace. The campaign should include, but not be limited to, conducting awareness seminars, walks and exercising of dialogue at academic institutions to sensitize students and community about the hazards of kite flying.  Pamphlets and awareness books should be distributed among citizens and students.

People can also be educated through announcements on electronic, print and social media about the potential tragedies of this fun sport. The punishment of kite flying offences is not enough. So, the punishment should be enhanced keeping in view the role of violators. There should be commensurate punishments for manufacturers, vendors and kite flyers. Police require to take stringent measures to curb the manufacturing, transportation, dispatching, vending and flying of kites.

However, in order to escape arrest, people are now involved in the online sale of Manja string and kites. So, police should monitor the online sale sites to identify the culprits and apprehend the accused involved in this deadly business. Moreover, police should take peomises from courier services and transporters to not cater to delivery related to kites and chemical string.

Given the grievous hurt and death caused by kite flying, it is an undeniable fact that it is no longer a recreational activity. Though some segments of society view that there should be some relaxation for safe kite flying keeping the sentiment and enthusiasm of people rather having a broad prohibition of kite flying. However, the perils are galore. Kite flying is not only dangerous for people but also for birds and other animals. The responsible must be taken to task and crackdown against the violators must be sustained and culminated to the logical end.

Muhammad Rizwan Bhatti
Muhammad Rizwan Bhatti
The writer is a Ph.D Scholar, Deptt of Political Science, Govert College University Faisalabad and can be reached at [email protected]

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