‘Manja sharp enough to slice head’

Sakal Times Team
Wednesday, 16 January 2019

ST carries out further probe into sale of banned Chinese manja; sellers admit paying bribes to cops

Pune: Team Sakal Times has unearthed sale of deadly manja in Pune, the nylon kind from Vilas Bakery and General Stores located at Dattawadi near Dandekar Bridge and Chinese manja from Hasanbhai Patangwala in Bhawani Peth.

Manja, used for flying kites, a traditional activity that keeps thousands out in open around on Makar Sankranti, is made of several varieties, but the glass coated, synthetic and nylon manjas have often proved fatal for many. 

It is banned by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). 

Hasanbhai Patangwala operates from Dulha Dulhan Qabristan (Muslim cemetery) located next to his shop.

Posing as buyers, Sakal Times’ investigative reporters visited river banks where children and youngsters usually fly kites during the festival. 

The aim was to find out the type of manja used by them.

At Mutha river bank near the Khilarewadi slum near at Nal Stop, 5-6 year-old children were flying kite with Chinese and nylon manja. 

Is it strong?
When asked, “Which manja is it and is it strong enough?”, they replied, “The manja is so strong and sharp that not only the neck but any person’s head can get sliced easily.” 

They even showed the injuries on their hands and the wounds were quite deep. 

The two reporters showed interest in purchasing it, so the excited children took them inside Khilarewadi slum area.
 
According to them, three people sold it - youngsters S Mone, Buttya and a 6-year-old whose cousin supplys it from Mumbai.
  
The shop was closed and the three were unavailable at their residence.
 
The six-year-old, along with his friend who looked a year or two older than him, took us to Vilas Bakery and General Stores.

Kids in the business
The two unknowingly acted as dummy customers for the reporters’ team.
 
They first enquired about material of thread, rate, length of the thread and took sample to show to the team.
 
On being assured that it is indeed the ‘banned nylon manja’, the reporters purchased a reel of 1,000 metres for Rs 150.
 
Other variant of nylon manja sold under name ‘Monokite thread’ is also being bought in Pune, but was unavailable at the store. 

“Monokite thread is more elastic and has sharp edges for cutting literally anything. You can purchase it from Khilarewadi, Erandwane area on Wednesday,” the children informed.

An informal chat with the owner of Vilas Bakery and General Stores revealed that all sort of manjas are sold in Bohri Ali.
 
“But they do not sell it to unknown people. Year after year, manja guidelines are becoming so strict that hardly any people are seen flying kites,” he informed.

“Police patrolling has increased. So, I am not going to buy any new stock of banned manja and will sell only the leftover reels which are with me,” he said.

“How is it being sold openly? “All the seller has to do is give money ‘under-the-table’ to the police,” he said. 

According to sources, the banned manja is not manufactured in Pune but procured from Gujarat via Mumbai.
 
This transfer usually takes place in the dead of the night.

  • On January 10, reporters from Sakal (Marathi edition) and Sakal Times accompanied Pune police on an investigation drive at Hasanbhai Patangwala who allegedly sells banned manja. But the manja was not found. 
  • On January 15, when the country was celebrating Makar Sankranti, Sakal Times’ reporters again visited the shop.
  • The reporters posed as customers and asked for chinese manja and as usual the owner of Hasanbhai Pantangwala refused to give it. After several request made to him, he took the team at Dulha Dulhan Qabristan (Muslim cemetery) which is located next to his shop. From there the reporters purchased a reel of manja for Rs 500. There the owner of the shop was quietly selling banned manja 500 meters inside the cemetery.

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