37 injured as Pindi city residents celebrate Basant despite ban

Published February 24, 2024
(Clockwise from top) Youngsters fly kites from the rooftop of their houses in Banni area, a boy runs after a stray kite along the banks of Leh Nullah in Dhoke Ratta while police patrol Rawal Road to curb kite-flying in Rawalpindi on Friday. — Photos by Mohammad Asim & Online
(Clockwise from top) Youngsters fly kites from the rooftop of their houses in Banni area, a boy runs after a stray kite along the banks of Leh Nullah in Dhoke Ratta while police patrol Rawal Road to curb kite-flying in Rawalpindi on Friday. — Photos by Mohammad Asim & Online

RAWALPINDI: Several people, including teenagers, were injured either after being hit by stray bullets or kite strings as residents celebrated Basant defying the government ban here on Friday.

On the other hand, police rounded up over 260 people for selling or flying kites in the city.

A large number of kite flyers and sellers were detained at the Waris Khan police station where more than 300 people gathered to get them released.

Two prison vans were also parked outside the police station for shifting the arrested persons to jail.

According to official figures, 17 injured people, including four with bullet wounds, were taken to Benazir Bhutto Hospital and 20 others to District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ). The injured shifted to the DHQ hospital were three to 10 years of age.

Police said City Police Officer (CPO) Syed Khalid Hamdani had chalked out a comprehensive plan with deployment of 1,500 personnel to enforce the ban on aerial firing, kite flying and selling.

Police round up over 260 people from different areas during crackdown

Besides, courier services and goods transporters had been directed to inform the police whenever a consignment containing kites was booked either for Rawalpindi or out of the city.

A police official said since kite sale was not banned in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, people usually brought kites from Haripur, the nearest city of KP to Rawalpindi.

“Kite flying can be controlled in Punjab provided a similar ban is also imposed in the KP,” he said.

Police were using binoculars, ladders and other tactics to prevent people from kite flying, selling, aerial firing; however, kite flyers celebrated ‘Basant’ ignoring the government ban.

Kite flying and firing into the air continued in some populated areas of the city. Young boys and children carrying long sticks were seen chasing stray kites on busy roads endangering their lives as well as others’.

‘Basant’ was celebrated in areas, including Kacha Road, Hazara Colony, Safdarabad, Mohanpura, Workshopi Muhallah, Dhoke Elahi Baksh, Naya Muhallah, Banni, Imam Bara Road and Gawalmandi.

The festival was also celebrated in Potohar division’s Chakra Road, Dhoke Gujran, Qasimabad, Naseerabad and Misrial Road. Firing was also observed at some places while police teams continued raids on kite flyers but the revelers continued their activities at full scale.

A police spokesman said during the crackdown, more than 260 individuals had been arrested from different parts of the district while 15,000 kites and strings were seized. Moreover, 11 pistols and sound systems were also recovered by the police during the crackdown.

The spokesman said legal action would be initiated against owners of houses and buildings for allowing their rooftops for kite flying. Police have also been directed to take legal action against those selling kites by using different social media platforms.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2024

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