RAWALPINDI: Authorities have intensified the crackdown against kite sellers and kite flying enthusiasts in Rawalpindi as the city recorded its first victim of the traditional sport.
A biker got entangled in kite string and his throat was slit open by the string on Murree Road. He was rushed to hospital in critical condition.
However, kite sellers and enthusiasts say, come what may, they will mark Basant on February 23 and 24.
With orders from Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif the district administration and police have come down hard on the kite enthusiasts .
Police have recovered 10,000 kites and kite stirring rolls and rounded up 65 kite sellers.
However, this kite ban has proved to be a lucrative business for the police. The arrested kite enthusiasts are being let go at a rate of Rs. 5,000 from every police station.
Basant will be celebrated on February 23 as the kite flying enthusiasts and police are at loggerheads. On the directions of Deputy Commissioner Talat Mahmood Gondal and CPO Israr Ahmed Abbasi, announcements are being made in the cantt areas and throughout the city, from the mosques that if anyone is seen on their rooftops flying kites on Basant, cases will be registered against the owner of the house.
SHO Cantt Police Station Inspector Malik Tahir has urged the Cantt residential representatives Malik Riyasat, Haji Liaquat, Mehmood Hussain, Haji Amin, Rashid Butt, Raja Atif and Ajmal Khan to curb kite flying in Cantt. He insisted that local elder talk sense into the local residents that a father might have to go to jail because of his child’s kite flying enthusiasm. The delegation assured that their residents will abide by the law.
Police have acquired ladders which ensure easy access to the rooftops of the houses. Surprise raids on shops have also intensified. All the SHO’s belonging to every police station in the city and Cantt have been instructed by the CPO to register cases against kite flying enthusiasts and kite sellers, if found breaking the law.
However, despite the strict ban, kite flying hasn’t been completely curbed as many enthusiasts are still flying kites high in the sky. From dusk till dawn, the sky can be seen full of colourful kites. The police seem busy in apprehending the kite flying enthusiasts, but quickly let them go after being paid Rs5,000.
Kite Sellers Union members Haji Navid and Arshad Abbasi told Daily Express that around one million kites and kite stirring rolls have reached the city. This time, though, secret codes have been devised to sell the kites and strings to exclusive buyers. Kites have been stocked up in stores, while prices have skyrocketed as well with a good quality kite ranging from Rs50 to Rs250, while the kite stirring rolls cost Rs700 to Rs3,000.
The police are planning action against kite sellers to ensure ban on kite flying in Rawalpindi. Yesterday, the CPO of Rawalpindi, Israr Abbasi held a meeting with the divisional SPs which included SP Rawal, Behram Khan, SP Potohar, Syed Ali and SP Saddar, Iftikhar Ahmed and gave directions to constitute squads at the level of police station to stop kite flying and sale of kites. Following the orders, the SPs have constituted the squads under the SDPOs at the police station level and have also authorized them to launch a crackdown. Police officials have been deployed with banners in Rawalpindi, in both the city and Cantt areas, at the entry points of flyovers and head bridges. The motorcyclists are being stopped to go in that direction till the time of Maghrib prayers.
CM takes notice
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif taking strict action over the incident of a string injuring a youth in Rawalpindi, has suspended SP Rawal, Behram Khan, DSP City, Farhan Aslam and SHO City Khalid Sati.
He has also issued orders for immediately removing these police officers from their posts. The CM said that those police officers who do not implement the law banning kite flying have no right to stay on their posts. The CM has summoned a report from CCPO Rawalpindi and Deputy Commissioner Rawalpindi.
A motorcyclist was injured as a kite’s string slit the throat of the victim in the area of City police station. The CPO Rawalpindi implementing the orders of CM Punjab suspended the SHO City Inspector Khalid Sati. He has summoned a report from the SP Rawal.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2018.