Just a few days ahead of Independence Day, as Delhi welcomed the recent ban on Chinese manja in the city, animal rights organisation PETA India filed a petition with the National Green Tribunal on Tuesday demanding a nationwide ban on the use of ‘manja’.
Manja is an abrasive string used for fighter kites. It is usually made of synthetic, non-biodegradable material such as nylon. The string is then gummed, coloured and coated with powdered glass and metal to make it sharp enough to cut the string of an opponent's kite during kite-flying festivals. In the past, these sharp strings have proved lethal not only to birds, but humans as well.
According to the press release issued by PETA India, “ More than 300 birds were injured in Hyderabad in 2015 during Makar Sankranti, and more than 100 were killed. A bird rescuer in Ahmedabad estimates that 2,000 birds—including pigeons, kites and vultures—are injured every year during the city’s Uttarayan festival and that 500 of them die from their injuries.”
In July 2016, manja killed a biker Yogesh Sharma, who was found dead, lying in a pool of blood with his throat slit by a kite string on the Thakurdwara Flyover in Ghaziabad. The 52-year-old was riding his motorcycle when the majha hit the front of his helmet, slipped and got stuck to his throat. He was declared brought dead at the hospital.
In September 2015, a Chennai boy died after a manja thread slit his throat. Five-year-old Ajay was riding along with his parents on his father's two-wheeler on Murasoli Maran flyover when the accident happened. He bled to death in front of his parents. In the wake of the incident, Chennai Police banned the use of manja in the city for 60 days and arrested 175 persons for allegedly using it for flying kites.
In April 2012, 28-year-old Raj Kumar died after a manja slit his throat while riding a moped on Nerkundram High Road in Chennai. The police had said that the man fell off the bike and died on the spot. The same week, another case of a motorcyclist being injured in the neck by manja was reported in the city.
Following the reports of high number of accidents caused due to manja, in August 2012, the Madras High Court upheld an individual's right to fly kites while prohibiting the use of the sharp strings for the same. In 2015, the Madras High Court directed the secretary of the Home Department and police commissioner of Chennai to restrict the distribution of manja at the source.
According to the press release, “The High Courts of Rajasthan, Allahabad, and Jammu and Kashmir have already banned the use of manja in their respective states. Many other states and district administrations—including Amritsar, Andhra Pradesh, Chennai, Gujarat, Indore, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, South West Delhi, and the Gandhi Nagar subdivision of East Delhi—have also taken steps to ban the production, sale, stocking, and use of manja.”
“The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has also issued an advisory to all states and union territories asking them to address the manja threat,” stated the press release.