A 17-year-old, suspected to have used manja on a kite that killed a man, has been remanded

Police conducted an hour-long raid on kite shops in Old Washermenpet on Wednesday, and also arrested a 17-year-old boy in connection with the death of a motorist on Tuesday evening.

The teenager was picked up from his home on Pallavan Salai, Triplicane. Police said he had flown the kite that had a manja (glass powder-coated thread), which killed a 33-year-old IT employee on Tuesday evening.

The raid however, was not very successful, a police officer said, as when the team reached Old Washermenpet, they were greeted with closed kite shops.

“Though our raid did not yield much of a seizure, such raids will continue. This raid was also an indication that the use of manja has come down,” a police officer said. The use of manja is prohibited. In August last year, the Madras High Court upheld the right to fly kites, but prohibited the use of dangerous threads including manja.

The officer said the boy had been remanded to custody and taken to a juvenile home.

Though more than 100 shops are known to sell kites and threads in the city, the police, in their raid, were only able to seize a small bundle of ordinary threads from a shop on Manikandan 2nd street. Manikandan, a locality known for its kite-sellers since colonial days, has nearly a dozen streets where most of the wholesale dealers of kites in north Chennai operate.

“Most of us sell only ordinary threads as manja can be prepared by the kite flyers themselves. Further, with a drop in kite flying in the city due to a lack of open spaces, we do not risk selling banned kite items,” said S. Radhakrishnan, a kite wholesale seller in Old Washermenpet.

Manja is made using ordinary thread. To this, a mix of rice paste and stone powder is applied, to make the thread stiff and strong. In some cases, crushed glass powder is used in order to cut an opponent’s kite thread.

Kite flying is a recognised legal pastime throughout the world. In the city, the kite season begins in August and ends in January. Such threads are prohibited as they would endanger lives of people if used on streets and in public. Areas like Perambur, Chintadripet, Vyasarpadi, Basin Bridge, Tondirapet and Old Washermenpet in the city, have traditionally been known as kite hubs.

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