RAWALPINDI: Spring is here and kites are in the air. Like every year, Basant brings kite enthusiasts out on to the rooftops of Rawalpindi to enjoy their pursuit despite a ban.
The chemical-laced twine and extremely thin metal wires used by some kite fliers have killed and injured many people in the past, forcing the government to impose a ban on the traditional sport completely.
However, a market survey by The Express Tribune revealed that in spite of a ban, kites of all sorts, spindles, twines are available freely in the old city area.
People adamant on celebrating Basant were openly flouting orders of the Rawalpindi police of a crackdown on kite makers and sellers.
Colourful kites continued to dot the sky in the vicinity of Saidpur Road, Airport Road, Murree Road, Rawal Road and Mall Road. The air resonated with cheers of ‘bo kata’ whenever a kite is downed in a duel in the sky known as a 'paicha', when two people entangle the twines of their kites and the one who breaks the other’s thread is the winner.
Even the test match between Pakistan and Bangladesh had to be stopped for a few minutes when a few kites fell into the ground. Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali and ground staff picked up the kites and gave them to the spectators.
Police launch crackdown
Meanwhile, City Police Officer (CPO) Mohammad Ahsan Younas ordered a crackdown against kite flying in the city.
A police spokesperson said that the operation against kite-flying was being conducted in different areas of Rawalpindi.
He said that several kite sellers have been arrested, while many young people and boys threw their kites and fled.
The CPO has directed all officers to devise a comprehensive and integrated strategy and take strict action against the sale and purchase of kites and to combat kite-flying.
He further appealed to the parents, members of the civil society and the business community to create awareness about the dangers of kite flying, particularly the risk of slitting throats with the twine.
Divisional SPs of Rawalpindi are overseeing operations against kite flying in their respective areas, the police spokesperson said.
So far the biggest catch of the season has been the 1,200 kites seized by the Saddar Bairooni police. Moreover, three kite vendors were arrested in two separate operations, officials of Saddar Bairooni police said, adding that twine and spools were also recovered from the suspects.
Cases have been registered against the suspects, identified as Abdul Wahab, Mohsin Ali and Khanzada. They are expected to be produced before a magistrate on Saturday.
Separately, Cantonment police arrested two people and recovered 200 kites from them.
Another man fell victim to kite lying in the city.
Identified as Haris Manzoor, he was travelling on his motorbike on Murree Road when suddenly a low hanging kite thread got entangled in his neck causing serious injury.
People rushed Manzoor to the Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) where doctors were successful in saving his life.
However, the city police chief has issued a show-cause notice to SHO of New Town police station over the issue.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2020.
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