Speed junkies

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By SHUCHISMITA CHAKRABORTY ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JOY SENGUPTA
  • Published 3.08.13
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Stoppies and wheelies might seem gibberish to most, but for Nishant (name changed) and his group of adrenaline junkies these are stunts they are willing to live and die by.

This 16-year-old youth normally drives… err zooms… at 90-100 km/hr and performs jaw-dropping stunts. High on adrenaline, around a dozen teenage boys practise stunts in the evening near the Patna airport and on the Bailey Road stretch. Even the New Delhi incident of a youth being shot by the police to rein in a biker gang seems to have had no effect on these speed maniacs who continue to rule the roads, caring two hoots for the commuters or the police.

According to sources, these bikers do not shy away from a challenge by the cops. If the police try to stop them, the oft-repeated line thrown at them is Mamu dhar sakte ho to dhar lo varna agle baar pakad lena (catch us if you can or better luck next time).”

Stunt-biking has well and truly arrived, albeit with its set of problems.

The juvenile lust for speeding and the glorification of stunts in movies such as Biker Boyz, Torque and the Dhoom series closer home are not the only ones responsible for the fad. Experts believe that parents unknowingly encourage these youngsters to ride fast. In some cases, parents justify their move of providing motorbikes to teenagers.

Nishant, who studies in Class XI of a renowned private school, said his father bought him the bike when he was 12 years old. “I started riding my father’s scooter since I was aged 11. When I was 12, I asked my father to buy me a bike because I often had to take my mother to my maternal grandfather’s house in Anisabad Colony. My father was convinced when I told him the bike would help me reach my coaching classes on time. I had to change two autorickshaws to attend tuition. My father bought me a bike worth around Rs 60,000,” said the youth.

If Nishant found it easy to convince his father, it was no big deal for his other friends either. Seventeen-year-old Abhijeet Singh (name changed), a member of Nishant’s group, said he made his father promise to buy him a sports bike if he got good marks in his Class X board exams last year. He secured good marks and his father kept his end of the promise by buying him a bike worth Rs 1.5 lakh.

“Throughout my examination period and until the results were declared, I made sure I made no mistakes so that my father did not change his decision. I wanted to own a bike as many of my friends already had one and would tease me. I started riding bikes since I was in Class IX but nobody in my family knew about it. They got to know only after I moved to Class X.”

On how they maintain their mean machines, Abhijeet said: “I get Rs 3,000 as pocket money from my father. I manage another Rs 1,000 by making excuses regarding school projects or borrow money from my friends. Sometimes, I steal money from my father’s pocket when there is no other way out. All my friends manage the money the way I do.”

Psychologists agree that parents should not gift bikes to teenagers. “Many parents gift their children expensive gadgets when they don’t need it at all. Most of them have no time for their children and try to make up for it with gifts thinking their child will love them more. This works against them, as the children a habit of demanding expensive things, knowing they won’t be denied. This is how the youths get into bad habits and bad company,” said Binda Singh, a clinical psychologist.

While Nishant and Abhijeet had to extract the gift of a bike, some parents gave bikes to their children of their own will.

Parents, however, said they have their own reasons. “I gifted my son Robby a bike on his 16th birthday. I thought it would be a different gift. I want to give my son all the comforts in the world. After all, for whom am I earning?” said Pradeep Agrawal, a businessman residing in the Boring Road area.

On whether he would reconsider his decision after the New Delhi incident, Agarwal brushed it off. “It was just an accident. I don’t think my son will be so careless. I gifted him the bike only after he promised not to drive fast and to obey rules and regulations,” said Agrawal.

Another parent, who has an 18-year-old son, said the times have changed. “There are many teenagers who ride bikes and our children see them and pressurise us. Nowadays, one cannot blatantly refuse as they ask many questions and can go to any length to get their wish fulfilled. We don’t want to take that risk, as they are our children and if we can afford the machines, then why not?” he said.

However, not all parents think the same way.

“Teenagers tend to break rules. I don’t think the youths would be cautious just because their parents asked them to be. They tend to speed under the influence of their friends or movies. Most of them do it to impress girls. The fault lies with a few parents who don’t know what their kids are up to,” said Dayal Prasad Sinha, a retired bank employee.

When asked, the police agreed that speeding was a menace in the city. “Biker gangs are not new to the city. The police have revived the anti-race driving cell and a drive has been initiated against bikers. The police are nabbing speedsters and penalising them for breaking traffic rules. The bikes are being seized as well. In addition, the police have information about some professional biker gangs who are into betting for speeding too. There is a centralised gang who co-ordinate these speeding games. It is also the responsibility of parents. They should know what their children are doing,” Patna senior superintendent of police Manu Maharaj told The Telegraph.