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Woman, five-year-old killed due to firing in the air on basant

Updated February 23, 2019

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A woman and a five-year-old girl were killed during firing in the air and more than 140 people were injured in the garrison city on Friday as people celebrated basant despite the ban on kite flying. — Reuters
A woman and a five-year-old girl were killed during firing in the air and more than 140 people were injured in the garrison city on Friday as people celebrated basant despite the ban on kite flying. — Reuters

RAWALPINDI: A woman and a five-year-old girl were killed during firing in the air and more than 140 people were injured in the garrison city on Friday as people celebrated basant despite the ban on kite flying.

Kaleem Ahmed, a resident of Bara Kahu said he had come to Sadiqabad with his family to see his ailing mother in-law. He said his five-year-old daughter Urwa was playing with other children on the roof of the house when she was hit in the head by a stray bullet.

“We did not realise she had been hit by a bullet and we took her to the hospital thinking she was unconscious because she had fallen down. Doctors at the Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) told us she was killed by a bullet in her head,” he told Dawn.

He said he had declined to register a case.

A woman, Shamim, the daughter of Latif, was killed after being hit by a stray bullet in the limits of the Waris Khan police station, which led to the suspension of the station house officer.

More than 140 people were injured as residents of Pindi celebrated the festival despite ban

The three government hospitals in the city received many patients on Friday with bullet injuries, kite string injuries and bone fractures from falling from rooftops.

People defied the ban on kite flying and firing in the air and fire crackers could be heard across the city. Young kite runners could be seen running after kites on busy roads with sticks and batons.

The District Headquarters Hospital received 45 patients with injuries related to kite flying. Of these 14 had been injured due to firing in the air, 11 had cuts from kite string and others had injuries from being hit by cars or from falling from rooftops.

More than 60 people were treated at the Holy Family Hospital and 45 in BBH.

The police said it was continuing with its crackdown against kite flying, had arrested five people and recovered hundreds of kites, sound systems and rifles.

Electricity transformers went out of order in many areas due to strings causing tripping. Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) officials had to work extra to restore electricity supply and changing transformers from Thursday night to Friday evening.

A resident of Sarafa Bazar, Shujaat Haider Naqvi said the government was responsible for interrupted electricity supply.

“Our electricity transformer tripped twice in one day due to kite string,” he said, adding that the government first announced it will lift the ban and then took its decision back.

“People took advantage of this and were defying the ban without fear,” he said.

Sajid Mehmood, a resident of Millat Colony said those celebrating basant were up all night on the rooftops and created disturbance.

He said there was no check on kite flying or firing in the air and that the police seemed to be mere spectators.

The sale of kites and string in the downtown areas was also going unchecked. People were flying white kites during the night and colourful ones during the day. A simple kite was being sold for Rs50 and string was available for Rs1,000 to Rs2,000 per 100 meters.

Kite runners could be seen running across roads, climbing trees, scaling walls and jumping from rooftops. Several scuffles were also witnessed between kite flyers and kite runners.

Iesco Manager Operation Mohammad Arif said many cases of tripping transformers were reported with the company.

“Supply to Iesco offices was also interrupted due to kite strings,” he said.

He said Iesco managed to change many transformers and restore supply in many areas.

Meanwhile, thousands of kites and chemical coated string was confiscated in the federal capital and 10 people were arrested.

The capital administration had also banned kite flying, the sale and purchase and possession of kites and string in the capital a month ago.

Superintendent of Police Rural Mohammad Omer Khan received information about kites and string being stored near Zia Masjid. A team raided the area and recovered about 5,000 kites and a fair quantity of chemical coated string.

Three people were arrested during the raid and the Khanna police registered a case against them. The confessed that the recovered items were being stored to sell during basant.

The Sabzi Mandi police arrested seven people and recovered thousands of kites and string. The police had found a number of people flying kites in the area which led them to the sellers. The people who were flying kites managed to escape.

Those arrested were taken to the police station for further legal action.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2019