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Kite festival banned over neck injury fears

Over a thousand people were arrested in the Pakistani city of Lahore last weekend after defying a newly imposed ban on flying kites.

The ban was put in place by local government authorities in an attempt to put a stop to the numerous personal injuries that are caused every year during the city's annual kite-flying festival. Enthusiasts coat their kites' strings with metal and glass before taking part in aerial duels and attempting to cut the strings of their opponents.

Lahore's hospitals annually become overrun with flyers requiring treatment for head and neck injuries caused by razor-sharp kite strings, but authorities have now said enough is enough. Under pressure from Muslim groups and Mullahs, who see kite flying as a Hindu tradition, the city's chief warned that anybody caught defying the ban could be tried under anti-terrorism laws.

In actual fact, most of those arrested were released after brief appearances before magistrates, and the ban seems to have had some success as significantly less deaths and personal injuries were reported.

One man to be injured was Khurram Ali. A citizen of Lahore, he told reporters he was watching the kites from his rooftop when the sharp string of a falling kite wrapped around him and caused a neck injury that required seven stitches.

Another man claimed he was wrongly arrested after simply standing on his roof watching the aerial display. Sadiq Shah said, "I was standing on the rooftop when police knocked at the gate of our house. My mother opened it and they came upstairs and took me away."

He was later released without charge.


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