The circumstances in which a youth has died of police firing in the national capital are unfortunate. The magisterial inquiry will, hopefully, unravel the mysteries and fix responsibility for the killing. Police have claimed that Karan Pandey, 19, was one of several youths practising motorcycle stunts on public roads in the wee hours of Sunday. When the police tried to stop them, most of them sped away while a few, including Pandey, allegedly pelted the policemen with stones. They claimed their intention was not to kill but because of the somersault he was practising, the bullet accidentally hit him. Eyewitness accounts, however, differ from the police version.
What is noteworthy is that motorcycle stunts are not peculiar to New Delhi as they are practised in several cities. Usually, it is done in groups at night, when there is less traffic on the road. Riding at high speed on single wheel, deliberately scraping parked cars, standing on moving motorcycle, applying sudden brake and turning at breakneck speed are some of the stunts. It is dangerous not only to the riders and pillion-riders but also pedestrians and vehicular traffic. It is in wanton violation of the rules meant for driving licence holders. They cannot consider public roads as an arena for dangerous sport.
That the motorcyclists cared two hoots for the police is clear from the fact that the area they chose for practice is one of the most policed ones in India, which is in the vicinity of Parliament House. There is always some traffic on Delhi roads at any point of time because of the city’s huge population of nearly 20 million. Unfortunately, the stuntmen take their cue from similar performances shown in movies that are shot in ideal conditions using camera techniques for greater effect. That some of them use the skills for chain-snatching and other criminal activity is also a reality that cannot be wished away.