* Citizens say hide-and-seek between them and police will continue until Basant gets green light
* KFA official says use of polyester will be banned, kite flyers will only get cotton twine
By Afnan Khan
LAHORE: With the advent of February, the month associated with the colourful festival of Basant, Lahoris on Tuesday started defying the ban on kite flying.
Despite several arrests, the police have not been able to keep the Basant enthusiasts from flying kites. The citizens criticised the Punjab government for making plans to restrict the festival to the Walled City. Residents of the Walled City, Mozang, Ichhra, Shadman, and Gulberg are the more passionate enthusiasts.
Hide-and-seek: “Basant is the festival of Lahore and no one can stop us from celebrating it. We are crazy about kites and the passion is in our blood,” Sarmad, a violator, told Daily Times. He said the game of hide-and-seek would continue between them and the police until they were given permission to enjoy the festival.
“Punjabi culture is full of colour and festivities and Basant tops them all. The authorities should not try to ruin the festival,” another citizen said.
He said the Indians had started organising the festival across their country to attract tourists, adding that the Pakistan government was trying to keep the people at bay.
While criticising the idea of restricting the festival to the Walled City, he said, “It will be like dividing the Lahoris. The residents of other areas will rush to the Walled City, which will ultimately create problems for the law enforcers.” Lahore Kite Flying Association (KFA) General Secretary Mohammad Saleem said the association was coordinating with the City District Government Lahore and other authorities to organise the festival. He said they had prepared a final draft of recommendations, which would be presented to the government on February 6.
Strictly banned: He said the usage of polyester would be strictly banned in string preparation, adding that kite flyers would be provided with cotton twine only.
“It will prevent fatalities as flexible and rigid polyester string is behind slitting throats. Instead of metallic or glass powder, usage of traditional material in preparation of string will be ensured. We are trying to persuade the government not to limit the festival to the Walled City,” he said, adding that the final date for the celebrations would be announced soon. The government should make safety antennas mandatory for motorcyclists, he said, adding that the law enforcers should be ordered to check loud music and aerial firing.
District Coordination Officer Sajjad Bhutta said safety of the people was the first priority of the government. He said negotiations were in progress, adding that no one could give the final date as several hurdles were still to be addressed. Daily times, 4-Feb-09