Flying kites has become a symbol of freedom, with both the young and the old taking part in kite-flying competitions either on their rooftops or empty grounds. Young kids rushing to kite shops to buy kites and charkhis is a common sight.
However it is not entirely a happy picture. Some of the strings used for these kite-flying competitions are coated with glass and metal. These are popularly known as the ‘Chinese manjha’ in the market. The string can prove fatal if it strikes around the neck. In recent years many people including children have lost their lives because of its use, prompting the government to ban it in 2017 in Delhi. The National Green Tribunal ordered a total ban on manjha made of nylon or any other synthetic material in 2017 as well.
As Independence Day nears, the use of drones and paragliders have already been banned by the Delhi police. Now, the police is keeping a constant vigil on the sale of glass-coated manjha in the market.
“Using kite thread made out of plastic, nylon or similar synthetic materials popularly known as ‘Chinese manjha’ or any other thread coated with glass or metallic powder causes injury to humans and birds which at times proves fatal. Such deaths and incidents have been seen in the past few years,” said a senior police officer.
Several police stations in Delhi have been asked to escalate vigil in their areas around kite shops and see if rules are being flouted and the banned manjha is either being secretly sold or purchased.
“Any person found selling the metallic powder or nylon or plastic majhas would be booked under section 188 of the Indian penal code,” said the officer.
Surprise raids are also being conducted at various shops in different parts of the city. Most of the manjha supplies in Delhi come from Bareilly, Meerut and even Noida.
While many people including children have fallen victim to the deadly manjha, the police find to difficult to identify the accused as the kite-flyer cannot be traced through CCTV. Also tracing the string to its source is difficult considering several kites fly in the sky.
In August 2019, a civil engineer died after his throat was slit with a glass-coated manjha string in the capital’s Paschim Vihar area when he was going to a relative’s place.
In August 2016, in Delhi, a three-year-old child collapsed in the lap of her mother after she peeped out of the car window when a glass-coated manjha slit her throat. She was rushed to the hospital but could not be saved.