The Chinese manjha has so far been a death trap for animals and humans alike. From different parts of the country, every year cases are reported of birds getting caught, hands being cut off. Even as the ban continues, both the illegal use and production of Chinese manjha continues in India.
Kite-flying is a risky business, and the thread used to fly them, even more so. Interestingly, the 'manjha' or thread that we call Chinese manjha is in fact, made in India nowadays.
What makes Chinese manjha deadly?
It's no secret that the thread to fly kites is coated with powdered glass and shards to give it the cutting edge. For those who take kite-flying as a serious activity, it helps cut the thread of another kite in a competition.
However, the thread used traditionally was made of cotton and coated with a mixture of tree gum, rice paste and glass. The Chinese manjha is different because it uses a nylon thread, and may also be coated with metal pieces. This makes it stronger and deadlier. It can cut through flesh, which is why it's so dangerous to have around.
Of course, when you think of it use din kite-flying and lying in a house somewhere as a spool, it doesn't do much harm. The harm occurs, when it's discarded, as kites fly they can go very far and the thread when cut, trails behind. Sometimes the kites get stuck on trees, on cables, and they get more entangled. This creates a deadly web that birds, animals and people can get stuck in from time to time.
Chinese manjha accidents in India
Following the drastic increase in the use of Chinese manjha, more cases of animal deaths, trapped birds and people suffering grievous injury were reported. in 2017, the Indian government banned the use of Chinese manjha in different parts of the country. However, it continued to be made and used. In 2016, the National Green Tribunal had banned glass-coated, nylon and Chinese manjha across the country. Even state governments had moved towards the ban since 2009.
The demand for Chinese manjha however, didn't shrink and hasn't so far. Illegally Chinese manjha continues to be made in India and sold in kite-flying circles. In May 2020, a biker in Kolkata got caught in the Chinese manjha while riding over a flyover, the 40-year-old died after his throat was slit. The manjha is thin and therefore can't easily be spotted from a distance. In June 2020, the Kolkata High court banned the use of Chinese manjha, a day after the ban on Chinese apps in India.
Man's fingers cut off by deadly thread
Recently in Wardha, in Nagpur, a boy riding his scooter suffered a Chinese manjha injury where his fingers were cut off by the deadly thread. The boy Adil Ajani, a resident of Wardha, and was driving home when the manjha or thread got stuck around his neck, in the process of getting the thread off by grabbing it with his hand, the fingers were cut. The boy had to be moved to the hospital.
In Wardha, 14 people were injured by the thread during the lockdown, Lokmat reported. Kaustubh Gawde, In-charge of Emergency Services at People for Animal Slaughter was quoted by Lokmat, "Currently, kite flying is rampant in the city due to lockdown. It's terrible, that to entertain people, the consequences are grave." He added that there is a pertinent need for prevention.
In July 2020, pigeon got caught in Bareilly, UP in a web of Chinese manjha, and crane had to be called for its rescue.
In Telangana this year, NGOs and citizens came together to launch a movement against the use of Chinese manjha and switch to the less dangerous cotton thread. Every year around Makkar Sankranthi in Karnataka, distress calls are received for the rescue of birds getting caught in Chinese manjha.
Perhaps, it's time to reconsider a ban and focus on implementing it to make sure the death trap isn't produced in the country.