After hearing from PETA India, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, sent a letter to the forest departments of every state and union territory advising them to ban glass-coated, plastic, metal and other cutting forms of manja used in kite-flying contests. In the letter, AWBI Secretary S Uma Rani states that killing wildlife is in direct violation of The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, that the manner in which birds die after being gashed by manja violates The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and that manja is also deadly to humans. The governments of Chennai, Gujarat, Mumbai and the Punjab province of Pakistan already have bans on manja.
“In order to uphold our nation’s animal protection laws … the sale and use of glass-coated, metal, plastic or other sharp manja must be banned”, writes Rani. “Your action would help safeguard the environment for people and for animals”.
Razor-sharp manja has claimed many human lives, including that of Mukesh Patel, a 13-year-old boy who was electrocuted after the manja from his kite became entangled in an electricity wire on January 22, 2013, in Mumbai. On January 5, 2012, a woman in Surat had her throat slit by the glass-coated kite-flying string and later succumbed to her injuries. In a similar incident in July 2012, a corporation worker died after his throat was slit by a nylon kite wire. Subsequently, more than 50 people were arrested for selling manja and kites in police raids in Chennai.
Many animals have also been injured or killed by manja. In January 2013 alone, animal rights activists in Mumbai rescued and treated more than 300 injured birds, including pigeons, crows and owls, on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. In January 2011 in Hyderabad, 23 pigeons were killed on one day, and approximately 167 injured birds were rescued. A bird rescuer in Ahmedabad estimates that 2,000 birds are injured every year during Uttarayan in the city and that 500 of them die.
Let’s cut out cruel manja, not birds’ wings. Ask for a country-wide ban on the deadly thread.