Bollywood star Sonam Kapoor has donated “kind kites” – those that have regulation strings – to students at Arya Vidya Mandir School. Kapoor, who formerly attended the school, also sent a letter on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India imploring the school’s principal, Mitali Rudra, to encourage the children never to use cruel and deadly glass-coated manja. In the letter, Kapoor points out that thousands of birds – as well as many people, including children – have been injured and killed by glass-coated manja.
“The kites send a positive message to children, encouraging them to prevent the suffering of birds by using only string which has not been coated with glass”, says Kapoor. “I would also like to relay this message to all your students: study hard, be goal-oriented and be compassionate. You can start by showing compassion and not using glass-coated string.”
The manja used in kite-flying competitions is often gummed and coated with powdered and finely crushed glass, making it lethal for birds become entangled after the strings get caught in trees or on poles. Thousands of birds are killed by glass-coated manja every year, and many people have been killed by it as well. Last year, a man lost control of his bike after he was struck in the face by glass-coated kite string, and a woman’s throat was slashed by manja in Gujarat. Both died from their injuries.
In March 2010, Kapoor sent another letter on behalf of PETA India to Maharashtra Home Minister R. R. Patil urging him to ban glass-coated manja across the state after Mumbai police had banned it within the city.
Sonam’s Letter to Home Minister R. R. Patil:
Shri RR Patil
Home Minister, Maharashtra
Mumbai 400 032
Dear Shri Patil,
I am writing to express my grave concern over the deadly use of glass-coated manjha. As a way to help protect both human and animal lives, I humbly request your support for the recent ban on manjha in Mumbai as well as your immediate action to extend the ban throughout Maharashtra.
I have been shocked and saddened to learn from my friends at PETA that countless birds are slashed, wounded, maimed and killed every day during Makar Sankranti and Basant. I am also disturbed by the fact that manjha is responsible for numerous human injuries and even deaths, including that of a teacher who was killed just last year in Maharashtra. In another incident a youth was nearly decapitated by a manjha string while riding his bicycle. Such needless loss of life has moved me to take action for the sake of humans and birds alike.
The use of manjha may be a source of entertainment for some, but for many families – human and bird – who lose their loved ones, it is a tragedy.
I thank you for your attention to this important matter.