Over 100 kite flyers arrested in Pakistan

Lahore, Feb 13 (IANS) Authorities in Pakistan arrested at least 107 kite flyers for flouting a Supreme Court ban on kite flying, media reports said.

Police arrested a total of 107 kite flyers on Sunday and seized thousands of kites, rolls and strings, Geo TV reported.

Basant, a very popular festival celebrated by thousands of local people here, was banned by the Supreme Court in 2005 due to multiple deaths caused by the use of glass-coated string laced with chemicals as the ‘manjha’.

The ban not only deprived the people of the annual kite-flying fun, but also rendered thousands of kite-makers and sellers unemployed.

On February 7, Pakistan’s Punjab province Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif shot down reports which said his government may allow ‘safe’ kite-flying as part of Basant festivities this year.

“Complete ban on Basant. No one can be allowed to play with the lives of people. Concerned DPO will be responsible for any violation of ban,” Sharif had tweeted.

Earlier this month, about 150 kite flyers were arrested in yet another crackdown operation and nearly 4,000 kites, rolls and strings were seized.

In neighbouring India, the Delhi government in August last year banned the sale, production and storage of the ‘Chinese manjha’ — a cheap and durable kite-flying thread coated with a paste of crushed glass — after three people, including two toddlers, died due to slit throats in a single day.