Basant turns bloody, claims another life in Rawalpindi

50 others, including children, also injured as kite-fliers defy ban on celebrating banned spring festival

Imran Asghar February 24, 2023
Fireworks and aerial firing continued intermittently in different areas of the district. PHOTO: EXPRESS


A 20-year-old man was killed and at least 50 others, including children, injured in aerial firing and kite-flying related incidents as Basant was celebrated in Rawalpindi despite a ban on the illegal spring festival.

Last month, the Rawalpindi administration imposed a ban on Basant celebrations and kite flying under Section 144, with the Rawalpindi City Police Officer issuing crackdown orders to 33 police stations across the district against those who manufacture kites and strings, or order them from other cities, and sell or buy them.

But, despite the restictrions originally imposed by authorities in 2007 following a spate of accidents, enthusiasts continued to flout the ban on Friday, celebrating the ancient colourful spring festival by flying kites from rooftops in the garrison city.

Picture shows a young girl injured by a stray string from a kite during illegal Basant celebrations in Rawalpindi on Friday, Feb 24, 2023.—Photo: Express

20-year-old Arham Fazal died during the celebrations when he was hit by a stray bullet in the head within the limits of the Airport Police Station of ​​Rawalpindi. After the incident, rescue officials and a police team reached the spot and shifted the body to the District Headquarters (DHQ) hospital.

Hospital sources said stray strings and bullets injured at least 50 other people, including children, with some of the injured in serious condition.

Also read: Enthusiasts all set to fly kites during second Basant festival

An official of the SP Potohar Division also sustained minor injuries after being hit by a stray bullet in his arm.

Picture shows a young biy injured during illegal Basant celebrations in Rawalpindi on Friday, Feb 24, 2023.—Photo: Express

Apart from this, fireworks and aerial firing continued intermittently in different parts of the district as police failed to control the violators.

However, the district police claimed that they have arrested dozens of people for flouting the ban on Basant and detained many kite-sellers.

Picture shows a man receiving medical treatment after being injured during illegal Basant celebrations in Rawalpindi on Friday, Feb 24, 2023.—Photo: Express

Taking notice of the situation, RPO Rawalpindi Syed Khurram Ali ordered the senior superintendent of police (SSP) operations to take immediate action against those responsible and house-owners for allowing kite-flying on rooftops.

The official said that no one would be allowed to play with the lives of citizens.

Basant is a centuries old spring festival in Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province.

Enthusiasts have in the past used acid-soaked string and piano wire in kite-fighting battles, causing terrible injuries to people caught by tangles across roads—including slitting the throats of motorcyclists.

Victorious participants and their supporters firing into the air can also cause death or injury when the rounds fall back to the ground.

Last month, the Rawalpindi Kite Flying Association had announced celebrating the festival in the Cantonment and city areas on February 24 despite the Punjab government ban.


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