Six years have gone by since the city police took a tough stand against the use of maanja to fly kites and banned the threads in the city limits. But it is an open secret that the tiny razor-sharp thread continues to be used in the city as is evident from the recent cases of injuries suffered by unsuspecting motorists on the city’s roads.
In the latest incident, Kannan (23), a resident of Royapuram, was near the Kasimedu harbour on his motorbike when a thread cut him on his cheek. On September 22, Ramesh (30), a resident of New Washermenpet, was riding his bike on Erukkanchery High Road when he came into contact with the thread – he suffered a cut on his shoulder. Incidentally, on the same day, Rajesh Kumar (31) was injured by a maanja thread when he was on his bike at Kodungaiyur. He too suffered a cut injury on his neck when he accidentally came in contact with a maanja string that a few locals were using to fly kites.
While Kannan, Ramesh and Rajesh were lucky to have escaped with just superficial injuries, others have been not so lucky. In July 2012, Suresh, a Chennai Corporation worker, was killed when the thread slit his throat. Three months before this incident, Raj Kumar (28), who was riding on the Nerkundram High Road near Vanagaram, met with a similar end when the thread used to fly kites by a few locals slit his throat.
Whenever such incidents hit the headlines, the police conduct raids and arrest the shopkeepers selling the maanja threads. “The difficulty in containing the use of such threads is the public mentality. Most parents, especially those who are not aware of the dangers of the maanja thread, still take its usage lightly. So they allow their children to use it,” said a police officer. The cases reported by police point out that the violation of the ban on maanja thread is most common in parts of the North Chennai and Marina. “In these areas, it is highly risky as the motorists do not have much chance to predict the thread coming their way due to narrow streets. Awareness among people about the dangers of these strings is also low in these areas,” says a senior police official.