Govt mulls tough steps against kite flying

Application of anti-terror law under study

KHALID RASHEED April 22, 2024
Rawalpindi police seized thousands of kites and string rolls from the men arrested during the two-day Basant Festival celebrated despite a ban by the Punjab government. PHOTOs: Agha Mahroz/EXPRESS


Despite a 19-year ban, kite flying has claimed over 200 lives and left hundreds injured or disabled in Punjab during the period.

The provincial government now contemplates amendments to the Kite Flying Act, possibly incorporating it into the Anti-Terrorism Act.

The ban on kite flying and making in Punjab dates back to 2005 when more than 25 fatalities prompted authorities to take action.

Although the ban was intermittently lifted in 2006 and 2007, escalating fatalities led to a reinstatement in 2007.

In response to Supreme Court directives in 2009, the Kite Flying Act was enacted, empowering police to crack down on offenders. Despite its existence, no kite-flyer or string-maker has faced substantial punishment.

According to sources, 90% of the fatalities have been attributed to chemical strings causing neck or facial injuries.

The implementation of the Kite Flying Act led to a decrease in fatalities from 2009 onwards. However, the annual toll remains an average of 17 to 20 deaths and 50 to 55 injuries, especially during the spring festival of Basant celebrated in Punjab.

Efforts to curb the menace have been met with limited success. Despite numerous arrests and cases filed against kite makers, flyers and string sellers, the practice persists. The highest number of cases and arrests have been recorded in Lahore.

Former provincial law secretary Rauf Sheikh criticised lack of effective enforcement despite existing legislation. He emphasisedthe need for proactive measures, including the suspension of law enforcement officials responsible for string-related deaths and increased public awareness campaigns.

Provincial Information Minister Azma Bukhari acknowledges the longstanding problem and stressed the government's commitment to address it. Stringent amendments to the Kite Flying Act are under consideration, with potential incorporation into the anti-terrorism legislation.

Immediate action includes a crackdown on kite flying, coupled with legal reforms to ensure stringent penalties for offenders.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2024.


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