This Independence Day, the skyline over Red Fort will be free of kites.
At least, that’s what the Delhi Police is aiming for on August 15, which is also the national capital’s unofficial kite-flying day.
In a first-of-its-kind security outreach to prevent stray kites from falling inside Red Fort during the Prime Minister’s address to the nation and the flag-hoisting ceremony, the police have sought the cooperation of 231 regular kite-flyers from the walled city area to ensure a clear sky for about three hours that morning.
That’s not all.
The police in Delhi’s north district, where Red Fort is located, have also identified around 350 rooftop locations where their personnel will carry long bamboo sticks to snag stray kites. At one point, they had even planned to rope in skilled kite-flyers to snap the strings of others’ kites but that move was later shelved.
According to a senior police officer, the new Delhi Police Commissioner, Sanjay Arora, was briefed about the initiative when he sought a presentation about the force’s preparations for Independence Day hours after taking charge on Monday.
“Immediately, the north and central district DCPs, and DCP (security division), were asked to come with their presentations. They informed the police chief that they have identified all skilled kite-flyers of their area, and that they will keep them engaged from 6 am to 9 am on August 15,” the officer said.
“They also informed him that some skilled kite-flyers offered to stop other flyers also till 9 am,” the officer said.
Another officer said prohibitory orders under IPC section 144 have been imposed on flying kites near Red Fort during the Independence Day function, with violators facing action under section 188 (disobedience of official orders).
In 2018, a stray kite fell near Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his speech and last year, another kite fell on a tree inside Red Fort during the ceremony — both were considered security lapses.
When contacted, DCP (north district) Sagar Singh Kalsi said they are engaging with kite-flyers, and taking the help of resident welfare associations and market welfare groups to prevent such instances. “We have met with these kite-flyers and they have assured their support. Along with them, we will also raise awareness about not flying kites on August 15 from 6 am to 9 am,” Kalsi said.
According to police data, 231 skilled kite-flyers have been identified in the north district. The central district police, meanwhile, are wrapping up surveys in their jurisdiction.
Mohammad Sharique (37), who stays in the Sadar Bazar area, told The Indian Express: “My younger brother is a regular kite-flyer but both of us have decided to help the police. We attended meetings at the Sadar Bazar police station along with other regular kite-flyers in our area. We discussed several strategies to stop others in our area from flying kites till 11 am on August 15. Initially, we were planning to use our kites to cut down other kites, but the idea was dropped by senior officers,” he said.
Another regular, Mohammmad Salauddin (45), who works as electrician in the walled city area, said, “We have started making announcements in our localities to not engage in kite-flying on August 15. I have attended an all-India kite-flying in Bhopal… but we are now supporting the police.”