An intelligent young science college teacher died in Lahore on Friday at the hands of the frivolous habit of flying kites with sharp strings. Around a year ago, the young scholar returned to Pakistan after obtaining a doctorate in chemistry from the US with the zeal to serve his home country but the end came so soon. A sharp kite thread cut his neck while he was travelling on the pillion of a motorcycle. He died on the spot. For all practical purposes, Shahzaib Ahmed was slaughtered on the road. This heart-rending incident should be enough for the authorities to take effective measures to eliminate the menace of the use of threads reinforced with powdered glass. This was another death in a long string of fatalities caused by kite strings.
Over the years, kite enthusiasts have killed many people — young, old and children. The scourge is prevalent in most parts of the country, and such a grave issue has so far been tackled only superficially. Recently, after several people were killed in Punjab the police had arrested some young boys, and they had promised not to fly kites ever again. The police had taken other non-serious steps too to discourage kite flying. All this, as was expected, failed to have the desired impact. Such measures like distributing pamphlets and displaying banners to dissuade people from the dangerous practice of using sharp strings have failed to work and appeals continue to fall on deaf ears.
What is, therefore, needed is deterrent punishment for all those engaged in the kite and sharp thread business to save precious lives. Appeals and persuasions from politicians, the police and other administrative officials won’t deter the practitioners of death and injury. Now the police are considering dealing with kite-flying offences under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The fact that the highly qualified college teacher was travelling via motorbike reflects the decay of the society. Teachers should not be made to feel neglected.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2021.