The ban on Basant Festival in Punjab may finally be coming to an end after nearly a decade.
The people of Punjab saw a ray of hope when news started circling around that the Punjab Education Minister, Rana Mashhood Khan, announced Basant would be celebrated in the coming spring season.
According to the minister, the festival was safe and would be permitted to be celebrated in fixed areas of the province.
But, unfortunately, this announcement was not confirmed by any government authority and it was revealed they haven’t yet decided to lift the ban. This was also published on the official Twitter account of Govt of Punjab:
Some news channels are reporting approval of Basant by Govt of Punjab, which is NOT CORRECT. V will announce it here if such a step is taken
— Govt Of The Punjab (@GovtOfPunjab) December 5, 2016
There is still significant hope that the ban will be lifted
There is still hope for the ban to be lifted on Basant. The Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif has allocated this task to a 10 member committee to make plans to revive Basant.
According to sources close to the committee, they have shown a very positive response and we may finally see things moving ahead to lifting the ban.
The committee will examine the proposal of lifting the ban on the grounds of touristic potential of the festival.
The committee will be looking at suggestions on how the festival can be celebrated in a safe and secure manner so no deaths are caused.
Before it was banned, Basant was responsible for generating huge profits in the entertainment and tourist industry of Pakistan. But as time passed, Basant became notorious for causing injuries and deaths.
Why was Basant Banned in the first place?
Basant was banned in 2005 by the Supreme Court of Pakistan after reports of many deaths in different parts of Punjab, especially in Lahore.
Most of the deaths were caused due to glass coated strings that would cut and tangle motorcyclists in the city. The Supreme Court released the following notice in 2005.
After this several petitions, that challenged the ban were presented but were all dismissed by the court.
Despite the ban, Lahorites still celebrated Basant which end up in more deaths. This then triggered the passing of Punjab Prohibition of Kite Flying Amendment Bill in 2009.
Why it’s about time the ban should be lifted
The numerous deaths caused by Basant was due to highly chemical enhanced strings which were dangerous to humans. These strings would fall on the roads which caused serious threats to people traveling, especially on motorbikes.
But instead of stopping the manufacturing and sale of these chemical strings, the police started arresting poor folk that was unaware of the dangers of chemically enhanced strings.
Instead of arresting folk, the government should have had focused on a complete ban of manufacturing and distributing glass and chemically enhanced strings.
The festival was banned due to only some players in the industry who refused to follow safety guidelines and provided dangerous material to the public.
If Basant is to be revived, authorities should make sure that chemically enhanced strings should not be available to the public, else history will be repeated.