Banned Chinese Manja: Flourishing sale in Jammu despite ban

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Come August, the fear of throat-slits looms large and the malady becomes more rampant with the monsoon rains leaving space for the blue skies. Reason being the so-called banned Chinese Manja– a polymer made powdered glass coated kite flying string — used liberally by the kite fliers, especially in the run up to the festival of Raksha Bandhan and Janmashtami.
Last evening, the country’s premier television channels beamed the visuals of a young man getting crushed under a truck after being struck by the Chinese string, used in kite flying. This is not the first such incident and certainly this is not going to be the last, given the lackadaisical attitude of the administration in tackling this menace.
The horrendous throat slit incidents have been happening across the cities, towns and rural India, not only during the month of Sawan, but any month of the year. A newly married youth died on December 27, 2021after his throat was slit by a banned glass-coated kite string (Manjha) in Odisha’s Cuttack. A 20-year-old woman died in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh on January 16, 2022 after Chinese ‘Manja’ slit her throat while driving her Scooty and crossing a bridge. This is just a tip of the iceberg. Every other day similar stories are making the rounds in different modes of media, especially social media.
Like other parts of the country, the Chinese Manja is banned in Jammu too but still its stocking, sale and use is flourishing. In anticipation of the Raksha Bandhan and Janmashtami festivals, the Jammu skies remain hovered with thousands of kites, some of these gliding down due to ‘pecha’ by adversaries. This is the dangerous moment for passersby to get struck by the life threatening string, having the potential of hitting anyone on ground. If stretched ferociously, such a move could act like a razor and cut through flesh.
The question arises how Chinese Manja is making entry into the market places despite the ban. Indians hate China for her hostilities against the nation like the entire world disapproves of the Dragon for the spread of Covid-19. But still Indians are among top buyers of spurious, hazardous and cheap Chinese goods–Manja included. It can’t happen without the ‘tacit approval’ of the various agencies of the government and the police at lower levels. The administration seems to be doing pretty little in checking the use of hazardous Manja. The public awareness too is awkwardly poor. The Jammu Civil Society had, in fact, launched a vigorous campaign to generate awareness against the killer Chinese string by roping in school children and youngsters a few years ago. This had had encouraging impact with the police getting alerted and the unethical traders feeling discouraged to continue with the clandestine stocking and sale of Manja. However, administrative apathy and nexus at various levels have thwarted all efforts of dissuading the users and sellers from indulging in this life threatening activity. Despite the deterrent of five years imprisonment or a fine of Rs 1 lakh or both to the violators, the unscrupulous traders carry out the criminal act unabatedly. At times, reports keep making rounds about police teams taking action against the erring traders and seizing the lots of Chinese Maja but instead of consigning these in the Maalkhana, the stocks disappear and allegedly find way to shops again or gifted to nears and dears of senior officers’ families by the respective police stations.
The use of Chinese Manja stands banned by the National Green Tribunal on the grounds that it posed threat to life and the environment. In 2013, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (then known as the Ministry of Environment and Forests) issued a notification, urging the chief secretaries of all states and union territories to take appropriate action with regard to the use of Manja, while the Animal Welfare Board of India – which operates under this ministry – had called for an outright ban on the deadly string. This being the case, there should have been a mechanism for maintaining inventories about the seizures and disposing of these in a manner the Tribunal deemed appropriate.
Now that the menace is taking alarming propositions, will the responsive administration act after learning the lessons from what is happening across the country in terms of pedestrians and two-wheeler users falling prey to Chinese Manja ducking down below after hovering in the skies?