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Pakistan: More than 150 arrested for violating kite ban

Government in Punjab province lifted ban on spring festival in December but soon reversed decision

Ekip   | 05.02.2019
Pakistan: More than 150 arrested for violating kite ban FILE PHOTO

Ankara

By Aamir Latif 

KARACHI, Pakistan

Police arrested more than 150 people, mostly youths, for violating a kite-flying ban in northeastern Punjab province, police and local media reported Tuesday.

Most of the arrests have been made in Lahore, the country's second largest city and cultural hub, Lahore News quoted a police spokesman.

The provincial government in December announced a lift of the ban on Basant, or the Kite-flying festival. However, it soon had to review the decision and reimposed the ban following public and media pressure.

Lahore police warned citizens to stay away from kite-flying, otherwise get ready to face the law, the channel reported.

The festival, which welcomes spring, is mainly celebrated in Indian and Pakistani Punjab provinces, and was banned in 2007 following the deaths of hundreds of people -- mostly children. The festival was partially allowed to be celebrated in 2008 and 2009.

Despite the ban, kite-flying could not be fully controlled by authorities as kite lovers, mainly youths, celebrated the festival amid arrests and deaths in the last 11 years.

The deaths coincided with a period when the festival had become increasingly popular in Pakistan, spreading from its historical home in Lahore to other parts of the country.

But the sharp, often metal, strings used to detach kites during competitive kite fights killed several children by cutting their throats, sparking countrywide anger that forced the government to ban the festival in major cities.

Basant was taken to its zenith by former President Pervez Musharraf, who made it an international event between 2004 - 2008.

It promoted Lahore as the country's cultural hub and prompted citizens to rent out roofs of their homes for use in kite-flying events throughout the month.

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