The ban on Basant
The caretaker chief minister of Punjab Najam Sethi has apologised to the people of the province for his inability to lift the ban on Basant. Mr Sethi, who considered the continuation of the ban among the top failures of the last provincial government, has been able to do no better.
To absolve his government from all responsibility, he has cited legal issues that his government faced. All those reveling at the possibility of Basant taking place this year must have been disappointed to hear the news that this would not be the case. Many people had started planning trips to Lahore on hearing of Basant taking place, informing their hosts in the city to make the necessary arrangements.
The Parks and Horticulture Authority had prepared two proposals to celebrate the festival — one, where it would have been celebrated symbolically on the outskirts of the city, and the other, a full-fledged celebration taking place throughout the city.
However, before the matter could be challenged in court, the government itself decided to drop the plan fearing casualties.
The plan was never popular amongst government officials who have opposed the celebration on account of the deaths it has caused in the past.
To an extent, the concerns regarding Basant are justified; they are based on actual tragic incidents, where the sole breadwinners of their families lost their lives owing to a stray metallic string.
The idea of having a ‘controlled’ Basant also did not win many hearts as the whole concept of having an inexpensive source of entertainment is spoilt when you require people to go to an open place at the outskirts of the city, where arrangements would have cost a good amount of money.
On the other hand, as mentioned previously, celebrating the festival in a full-fledged manner jeopardises lives, especially of those people who travel on bikes.
To many, the celebration of Basant in April was nothing more than an attempt by the caretaker government to somehow prove its ability.
The celebration of Basant is not just about flying kites and dancing on bhangra tunes; it is about celebrating the arrival of spring, which mostly happens in February or March.
Personally, I don’t have any problem with celebrating Basant because I enjoy all the festivities that go with it but given the death rate on the day, it was a wise choice to continue the ban.