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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 March 2006, 20:46 GMT
Kite flyers arrested in Pakistan
Despite the ban the skies above Lahore were filled with kites

More than 500 people are reported to have been arrested in the Pakistani city of Lahore for flying kites.

Kite flying is a traditional part of a festival marking the advent of spring in Punjab, but on Thursday the Pakistani authorities introduced a ban.

The prohibition came in after a number of deaths, mostly in Lahore, caused by glass-coated or metal kite-strings.

Families of the seven victims protested last week, demanding that a Supreme Court uphold a ban on the sport.

Similar bans have been imposed in previous years.

Threat to bikers

The spring festival known as Basant is hugely popular across Punjab, with even President Pervez Musharraf often flying down to Lahore to participate.

Many of the hundreds detained were young boys

Kite flyers compete to keep their kites in the air, whilst downing those of others.

But they often resort to using wire or glass-coated strings to cut the strings of rival kites.

When the strings fall across roads, however, they pose a danger to people passing on motor-bikes.

Metal kites can also cause short-circuits in overhead power cables, leading to heavy losses for electricity utilities.

The court had relaxed its kite ban in February this year, but on the condition that it would automatically be reinforced in the event of any more deaths.

Over the years, the Basant festival has drawn thousands of revellers to Lahore from all over the world.

Even Indian movie stars had started participating in the festival which peaks with an all-night flood-lit kite flying marathon on the eve of the festival.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the killer kites in the skies of Pakistan



SEE ALSO:
Pakistan province kite-flying ban
10 Mar 06 |  South Asia
Kite deaths mar Pakistan festival
15 Feb 04 |  South Asia
Kite deaths spark ban in Lahore
25 Jun 03 |  South Asia
Lahore kite festival takes off
11 Feb 03 |  South Asia
India celebrates kite flying
14 Jan 03 |  South Asia


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