As kite-flying thrives, manja endangers motorists

As kite-flying thrives, manja endangers motorists’ lives 

String coated with glass powder, used to fly a kite, slashed a techie’s throat last week

Mallikarjuna K H, a resident of Wilson Garden, was entangled in kite string hanging across the road in Adugodi. He suffered deep gashes on his neck and fingers. (Screengrab from video)

Adugodi police have raided several shops following a kite string cutting Mallikarjuna KH, a software engineer’s throat last week.

Mallikarjuna, a resident of Wilson Garden, put out a video minutes after the incident, and prompted the police to act. He was riding near Adugodi traffic police station, fully protected by a helmet, when a string slashed his throat. He was hospitalised and is recovering.

The use of Chinese manja, string coated with glass and metal powder, is banned, but many kite-flyers use it.

Srinath M Joshi, DCP South East, says, “We have put our men on vigil. During our checks we found that the thread comes from Cottonpet, which is not in our jurisdiction.”

The use of manja can endanger motorists, and result in disability or death. Every year hundreds of birds are injured because of manja, especially during the kite-flying season.

“Ever since the pandemic hit, bird injuries have increased phenomenally. Usually, we used to get one or two rescue calls, but during the second wave, such rescue calls increased to 10,” says Col Dr Nawaz Shariff, general manager and chief veterinarian, People for Animals, Uttarahalli.

“In just the first five months of this year, we have seen 94 such
cases, mostly during the lockdown,” he told Metrolife.

Rise in kite sales 

Meanwhile, as the rest of the city slowed down and worked from home, kite sales witnessed a massive spike.

“In the last three months, we have easily sold 50,000 kites. We saw a sudden increase in sales when the government announced the lockdown. It was a welcome change as business had not been that good in the first two months of 2021,” says Altaf, owner, M N Kites, Shivaji Nagar.

Swastik Kites, Rajajinagar, also witnessed a similar boom during the lockdown.

“Because of lockdown restrictions, we could operate only till 10 am, but we were still selling at least 60 kites every day. We also started home delivery this year,” says Srinivas Kumar, owner.

However, with lockdown restrictions being eased, sales are dipping again. “Now, we sell only 10 to 15 a day. Demand is low,” he says. Many kite fliers ask for manja. “Younger customers always come looking for it. We educate them on its dangers and tell them safer options exist,” says Srinivas. Altaf says the murderous nylon manja has become wildly popular because it is cheap.

A metre of cotton manja costs 90 paise, while Chinese nylon manja costs only 35 paise.

It is commonly sold in many localities such as Tannery Road and Kalyan Nagar. “It is also easily available online where the price for a roll is between Rs 400 and Rs 1,500. Some have found a sly way of selling it on Facebook,” says Srinivas.

Why is manja dangerous?

Manja is thread coated with crushed glass, metal and other sharp substances to cut the opponent’s kite string. It can slit the throat of any human or animal and is especially difficult for the birds to survive if trapped. This thread also causes electrocution when it cuts through power lines.

Banned, but still in use

The National Green Tribunal had banned the usage of synthetic and nylon Manja in 2017. The Delhi government has banned all forms of manja and allows kite-flying only with cotton string. But many kite-flyers compete, and so ask for manja. 

Legal view

While flying a kite is not a punishable offence, if negligence is proven, it attracts a jail term of two years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh, according to S Shetkar, advocate.

 

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