Ahead of Independence Day, kite sellers in the capital are struggling to keep business alive. With some selling kites with banned Chinese manjha, sellers have been trying to protect their business from police and find customers during the partial lockdown period.
On Friday, Delhi Police conducted raids in more than 10 shops in Chand Mohalla and booked five kite sellers for selling Chinese manjha (made of nylon and plastic) and Bareilly ka manjha (coated with glass or metal).
Following a string of accidents in the capital, the Delhi government moved a notification banning Chinese and Bareilly ka manjha in 2017. Last year, six people, including two minors, died in road accidents caused by stray manjha. The strings get entangled around a person’s neck and cause severe injuries.
Police said the offenders were booked under section 5 of the Environment Protection Act. The punishment is up to five years of prison and/or a fine of Rs 1 lakh. A senior officer in Shahdara said, “We received information about the kite sellers and sent a team to raid Chand Mohalla, a big market in Shahdara. The offenders said they didn’t know about the manjha ban. We have registered a case against them and will probe the matter.”
Pradeep Barman, PETA India Advocacy Associate, said, “More than 900 birds died last year due to manjha. The kite string is made of cotton but the glass coating one is dangerous… Despite the ban, people keep selling them.”
Meanwhile, kite sellers said they are struggling to sustain their business. Ashwini Rajput (31) has been selling kites for a decade but this year, he has been able to sell only 5-10 kites a day near Lal Kuan market.
“Most of the raw material for the kites comes from UP and Haryana. Due to the lockdown, factories were shut and police didn’t allow transport of the material. Now, we have opened a small stall near Lal Kuan because we can’t afford the rent for a shop. I remember selling more than 500 kites a day last year. Now people don’t come out of their homes, why would they buy kites?” he said. Rajput said he and his family only make kites and don’t sell manjha.
Vivek Kumar (27), who opened a stall near Sadar Bazar, said, “There are many Covid cases near the market and most shops haven’t opened. I took money from my father to open the stall. I make kites with my elder brother. This year, I have only been able to sell 30% of the kites. We wear gloves and a mask, and clean our stall after every hour. I want to sell kites but people are scared. They look at the kites but don’t buy them. I might have to throw hundreds of kites because of this situation.”
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