The Basant is a seasonal festival particularly in the Punjab region. This biggest festival known as Jashn-e-Baharaan is held in February and sometime in March each year in different cities. Lahore is the most popular city where this festival is celebrated with great pomp and show by all and sundry. But the splendid festivity was marred by those who introduced illegal and harmful substance which took its real attraction far from everyone. The use of glass coated and metallic strings by those flying kites is the main reason which compelled the Punjab government to ban this festival and deprived the people of the opportunity to celebrate it in the cities of Punjab.
The Friday is a day when people of different ages start ascending their roofs to fly kites despite stern ban. The government has ordered police to nab those found selling, flying or carrying kites in their hands. Mostly, the youth hailing from middle class, mediocre and destitute fall prey to this ban. The kite catcher youth and children run amok to catch kites wandering in the sky and this brings great delight to them when they have it. These days policemen are conducting search operations to arrest those flying kites. They are using loudspeakers on their patrolling vans to inform public not to fly kites and if found they will be arrested and sent to jail with heavy fines. They are using moving stairs to climb on the roofs to capture those flying kites. They are usually in plain clothes to arrest violators of this ban.
The traders and business community is supporting the Punjab government’s ban and some union leaders installed different banners with their names and pictures to support police crackdown on those flying kites. The police also urged parents to stop their children from celebrating this banned festival.
Several parents supported this step of the government but said they fail to stop their children from this activity. They give suggestion to the government to form committees at Mohallah level who make youth and children to understand harms and irreparable losses involved in kite flying and worries of their parents. And after that if these committees find any violations the violators should be handed over to police instead the police climbing to roofs and violating the sanctity of homes.
Although parents advise their children to abstain from this practice but when the children go outside, the kites flying in the sky lure them and they join those flying kites. They ask the Punjab government to capture those people who are involved in making, manufacturing and producing kites and dangerous strings. They asked the government to launch crackdown on them and as a result there would be no kites seen in the sky. But the police do not pay any heed to this genuine demand and instead have started capturing the children.
The parents are of the view that convicting or sending the children to jail will destroy their future. Hameed Gul, resident of Kohati Bazar, Rawalpindi, had a sleepless night on last Friday when his son was taken away by cops when they captured him with his friends who were carrying strings and kites. The police officials took away everything from his son including his mobile so that they could not contact his home till the completion of process of FIR in police station. He said he had strictly advised his son not to buy or fly kites. But unfortunately, the son was held by cops who also received great appreciation from their high officials. The police crackdown continues in different cities of Punjab including Rawalpindi, Lahore, Sialkot, Gujarat, Gujar Khan, and Jhelum etc.
In Rawalpindi most of kites were seen flying in the sky congested areas like Saidpuri Gate, Banni, Kohati Bazaar, Asghar Mall, Waris Khan, Pirwadhai, Amarpura, Karishanpura, Kartarpura, Cha Sultan, Panora Akal Garh, Gunj Mandi, Raja Bazaar and several other areas.
Most of the parents said that they could not remain with their children all the time to prevent them from flying kites. They said sometime their children join those flying kites on the roof tops by pretending that they are going to see their ailing friend, or going on excursion trip or borrow study books from their friends.
When the police nab them, FIR is lodged against them immediately without considering their age and they are sent to lock-up. Parents have to bear the brunt of such agony and the next day they are standing outside the court to get bail for their children.