After receiving a complaint from PETA India, the Ahmedabad police seized hundreds of spools of manja (sharp kite-flying string often made of synthetic or cotton string laced with glass, metal, or other sharp materials) from shops in Sardarnagar and Bapunagar. During the law enforcement drive over the last two days, the police registered four First Information Reports against sellers under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, for violation of the 5 January 2020 order of the Ahmedabad Commissioner of Police banning all forms of sharp and dangerous string for flying kites during Makar Sankranti and the International Kite Festival (7–14 January) this year.
“Every year during the festival of Uttarayan many people die and get injured, countless birds also get cut and succumb to their injuries due to illegal synthetic and glass-coated Manja,” says Ashish Bhatia, IPS, Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad. “The Ahmedabad police policy on enforcement of illegal manja is strict and we aim to rid the city of illegal manja. I want to acknowledge PETA India for bringing to our notice the illegal Manja sellers.”
“It was very important to set a strong precedent to deter offenders from continuing to sell the banned manja. Last year during Uttarayan many humans have been injured, a few even dead, thousands of birds have also died as a result of synthetic and other glass-coated manja,” says Neeraj Badgujar, IPS, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone 4, Ahmedabad. “The Ahmedabad police policy is clear that the menace of manja has to be met with zero tolerance.”
Thousands of birds are killed every year when they’re cut or trapped by manja, which can get caught on trees or buildings and remain there for weeks. In January 2019, three people, including a child, were killed when their throats were slit by kite strings during Uttarayan festivities in Gujarat. By the middle of that month, 59 people had reportedly been injured by kite strings in Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat, and Vadodara.
Last year, students at Nutan High School in Ahmedabad participated in a novel show of commitment to saving the lives of birds and humans by engaging in a “kite swap“, in which they handed over kites in exchange for animal-friendly games and sports equipment – such as carrom boards, chessboards, and leather-free cricket kits – provided by PETA India.