Wednesday, December 15, 2010

SPEED THRILLS - BUT KILLS

Love of sports and thrills is not bad in itself but some sports like drag races could prove hazardous if all humanly possible precautionary measures are not taken to prevent injury and loss of life. With no developed institutional mechanism for holding such races in Pakistan, youths belonging to the rich and influential class, in their hunger for thrills and excitement, often indulge in this roadside fun illegally.

In one such incident in Islamabad on December 5, five spectators lost their lives when a racing car went out of control and rammed into spectators. It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court (SC) had to take suo motu notice to get those responsible for this illegal activity apprehended. Initially, the city administration and police denied giving permission for this race, which was held in Phase VIII of Bahria Town. The presence of sponsors and a large number of spectators suggests that it was properly publicised well in advance. How could such an activity take place without prior permission from the local administration?

At the SC hearing on Monday (December 13), it transpired that the city chief police officer (CCPO) of Rawalpindi gave a green signal to the organisers of this race and even issued a security plan, despite the fact that the district coordination officer (DCO) of Rawalpindi had denied permission to the organisers. The nominees in the FIR include the son of a real estate tycoon, who is reported to have fled the country with the help of his father after the incident.

In a society where wealth and influence hold more importance than the lives of innocent citizens, it is not surprising that police declared this incident an ‘accident’ and tried to close the case. Another reason for this haste was that an impartial inquiry would have established the local administration and police department’s culpability. Had the SC not intervened, the case would have been forgotten by now.

Now that the SC has taken notice, it is incumbent upon the police department to hold an unbiased investigation and bring those responsible to book. This would serve the ends of justice, give some relief to the victims’ families, and help in preventing such misadventures in future.

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