India: Kite-flying Enthusiasts Ground Delhi’s Birds

Kshitij Nagar
2016.08.26
New Delhi
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A worker at Delhi’s Birla Charitable Hospital for Birds inspects a pigeon wounded by cuts from a manjha kite string, Aug. 25, 2016. [Kshitij Nagar/BenarNews]

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A kite seller waits for customers at his shop in old Delhi, Aug. 25, 2016. [Kshitij Nagar/BenarNews]

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A customer checks the quality of manjha kite strings at a shop in old Delhi, Aug. 25, 2016. [Kshitij Nagar/BenarNews]

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Shopkeeper Javed Mohammad holds up a manjha string after removing it from a power line next to his shop in old Delhi, Aug. 25, 2016. [Kshitij Nagar/BenarNews]

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Children pick out kites from a shop in old Delhi, Aug. 25, 2016. [Kshitij Nagar/BenarNews]

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A painting adorns a wall of the Birla Charitable Hospital for Birds in Delhi, India, Aug. 25, 2016. [Kshitij Nagar/BenarNews]

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Supervisor Khem Kumar Singh (right) and hospital worker Balwant Singh check up on injured birds at Delhi’s Birla Charitable hospital for Birds, Aug. 25, 2016. [Kshitij Nagar/BenarNews]

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An injured peahen is seen in its enclosure at Delhi’s Birla Charitable Hospital for Birds, Aug. 25, 2016. [Kshitij Nagar/ BenarNews]

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Workers at the hospital treat an injured eagle, Aug. 25, 2016. [Kshitij Nagar/BenarNews]

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Injured pigeons recover at the Birla Charitable Hospital for Birds, Aug. 25, 2016. [Kshitij Nagar/BenarNews]

New Delhi’s annual kite flying season ended in mid-August, yet veterinary clinics there are struggling to cope with a large number of birds lying injured on local streets, as a result of aerial collisions with glass-coated strings that are banned but used in the sport.

Hundreds of birds have been killed and more than 1,100 are being treated at one Delhi hospital alone for severe cuts sustained from flying into the notorious Chinese manjha - a nylon thread coated with crushed glass and metal pieces – which is widely used by enthusiasts to cut off competitors’ kites.

Several people, including two children, have been killed during the month-long kite-flying season caused by mishaps with the strings.

Despite a court ban on the use of these sharp strings, Delhi’s Birla Charitable Hospital for Birds said it

had seen a three-fold increase in the number of injured birds this year.

“This thread is a serious threat as it is extremely sharp. Birds easily get entangled and the thread cuts into their flesh. It is sharp enough to even slit a human’s throat,” Khem Kumar Singh, the hospital’s supervisor, told BenarNews.

Among the toll on humans, at least five people have been killed and 10 others injured from the Chinese manjha this season, partly because of large lengths of the thread being discarded in the streets, according to the Delhi Police.

“I don’t like to sell this manjha because I know how dangerous it is. But I can’t afford to lose out on the profit I make from it. People who buy it also know it is unsafe. But if they want to take the risk, who am I to stop them,” Ashraf Syed, a kite seller in the old quarters of the capital, told BenarNews.

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