Written by Jayali Wavhal
A lawyer returning home on his two-wheeler was severely injured on Sunday when a nylon kite string, usually coated with fine pieces of glass or other material able to cause injury, slashed his throat, the latest among several such incidents in the city that have resulted in injuries, even deaths, in the past. Such strings are known as “manjha” and are banned, but are popular among kite-flyers engaged in contests or challenges.
The incident occurred near Ramchandra auditorium in Somnath Nagar area of Wadgaonsheri around 1 pm when lawyer Mahesh Gogawale and his son Rugved (8) were returning home.
Gogawale was riding the bike with his son riding pillion when he suddenly felt a jerk, which threw his son off the motorcycle. “I didn’t feel anything initially but passersby told me there was blood on my neck. I then realised that the almost invisible nylon string had slashed my throat. The string had got entangled around my neck in no time,” said Gogawale. His son also suffered injuries on his hands and legs.
The string also got entangled in the wheels of an elderly couple’s scooter, which was behind Gogawale’s bike. “The couple was not injured but lost balance and fell off the scooter. Passersby had already gathered to help the couple. Without any delay, I left with my son for hospital,” he said.
Gogawale rode to a private hospital in Wadgaonsheri. “The doctors discharged us around 4 pm. We have to follow up on Monday when we will be informed how long the recovery will take.”
Deadly kite-strings continue to be sold despite ban
In the last two years, there have been at least four incidents in the city — including two fatal ones — where unsuspecting two-wheeler riders received grievous injuries after getting entangled in these kite strings. It has been noticed that after every such incident, the police swoop down on half-a-dozen shops in Bohri Aali in Ravivar Peth, where shopkeepers have, by now, got so accustomed to the raids that hardly anyone is caught selling the banned strings. The authorities, activists say, conveniently ignore the smaller shops located in the lanes and bylanes of the city’s suburbs, which continue to sell “Chinese manjha”. “Most importantly, the authorities need to stop the entry of the banned manjha, which makes its way into city shops from Noida and Bengaluru, if it’s serious about preventing fatal accidents caused by these strings,” an activist said.
Despite suffering serious injuries, Gogawale has decided not to lodge a complaint with the police. He said he would file a litigation with the Bombay High Court instead. “Storing and selling nylon manjha is illegal, yet these shopkeepers openly display them on roads endangering lives. A police complaint will be of no use. Authorities who are supposed to act aren’t acting responsibly enough. I will take the matter to the High Court,” he said.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned nylon “manjha” in 2017 because of its glass coating that injured birds. However,
illegal sale of nylon “manjha” continues in the city.