It is almost evening, the uptown area of Parraypora and Baghat in Srinagar is filled with young faces. A range of colorful and floral scarves and bright school bags fills the road. The day has come to an end, and it is time for the girls who come here to study to go back home.
A fast bike zooms past a group of girls. The rider twists and turns, bending the bike as he passes them. The teenager siting on the back, seemingly too young to have a driving licence, turns around and says something to the girls as the bike speeds up even more.
The girls walk away with a face red with rage.
The area has gained popularity, for being an educational hub and a large number of students come to the place for tuition. With a coaching center in almost every lane, the area is crowded after schools get over with students looking to get their hands on some extra study material.
Standing at the bus stop, Bushrah Rafi, a student who comes here for college entrance examination coaching, says that she has to rush to the bus stop everyday to avoid a group of boys. According to her, passing rude comments, using abusive language and eve-teasing by these boys on fast bikes is becoming a daily problem that they have to face.
“If proper steps aren’t taken regarding this issue, this culture of street harassment is going to become permanent,” she says.
Some more boys on bikes approach the bus stop. Just as they reach near the place where Bushra is standing, the biker blows a loud horn as he brakes suddenly, causing the bike to stand on its front wheel. The other bikers shout at him and ask him to rush. They’ve spotted a police vehicle, a flying squad, meant to keep a check on these activities.
“We have made arrangements of barricades, where they are required and also deployed flying squads with more security personnel at places where rush of students is expected, like bus stands, to make sure such activities are avoided,” says Zulkarnain Banday, Station House Officer (SHO) Police Station Baghat .
According to him, the police is in contact with the heads of these coaching centers to make sure that no incident of eve teasing and street harassment goes unpunished.
Zia Ahmad Parray, a local shopkeeper who witnesses these scenes everyday says, “First it is the parents who have to play a major part in making sure about the safety of their own kids who ride these bikes at such a young age. Second, the police in the area is not dealing with the problem responsibly, and are not taking effective measures to curb this menace.”
The reason behind these stunts seemed to be “grabbing the attention of the girl audiences”, and impress them. Arik Shah, a student who comes here for entrance examination coaching says, “Simply to make an impression among friends, and in front of girls, these boys perform bike stunts at a time when they have a huge crowd of girls of their own age.
According to the locals, these teenage boys on fast bikes not only risk their own lives but also the life of pedestrians. For them it has become necessary to make sure that their children are indoors during the evening time, to avoid getting hit.
“The kind of media our kids are exposed to, is directly responsible for shaping their mentality. These kids are brought up watching Paul Walker and Vien Diesel and at such a young age, so they hardly see a difference in real life and fiction,” says one of the residents whose house is on the main road.
Riyaz Ul Rehman, a senior teacher in the area sees it in a different way. He says, “Not only in these selected areas, but throughout the valley, young boys are getting attracted toward bikes and stunts. This new generation has access to kinds of things. Here, they do these stunts on the main road because they have an audience, but we can witness the same kind of stunts being done in other areas of the city like, where there are hardly any girl audiences.”