Why say nay to motor sports?- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

KOCHI: There has not been much acceptance for such events in the state. This was proved in the incident in which the father of a child who took part in a mud race was booked. Ironically, winners of most of the races in the country are Malayalis

A few weeks back, a person was booked for making his son participate in a bike mud race along with professional riders in a racing event which was held in Palakkad. As the video footage of the child’s performance in the event riding on his mini-bike went viral on social media, the police registered a case. As per the Palakkad Town police, it was a trial event which was being held for a mud-race event which was scheduled to be held later this month. 

However, no permission was obtained by the parents though the participant was a minor. Hence, a case was registered against the child’s father under various sections of the Motor Vehicles Act and the Kerala Police Act. The incident has evoked mixed response from motor sports enthusiasts in the state. While some have hailed the action by the police department saying that the safety of the child was compromised as he was made to race with other professional riders, others opined that all safety measures were taken and the child was trained on a private ground.

Ramesh Pillai, president of the Trivandrum Jeepers Club (TJC), said, “ I think it was unnecessary on the part of the police to take a harsh decision regarding the issue. Mud-racing should be considered as a sports event. The child was also wearing safety gear while racing. Incidents like this can demotivate the child who might have a passion for motor sports events. Moreover, all safety parameters were followed and it was done in a private land, rather than on a public road.”

However, Ramesh, who is an off-road enthusiast, said, “Before participating in a motor sports event, the guidelines laid down by the government must be followed which include wearing protective gear, owning a driver’s licence and also a licence certificate for the vehicle to go off road. But, many a time, these rules are violated.” 

Though there are many off-road sports enthusiasts in Kerala, hardly any events are held in the state as this sport is not popular here. Most of the events are held mostly in northern parts of the country. “In an effort to popularise the sport in the state, we are planning to conduct a mud race event in Thiruvananthapuram next month,” he added. Another motor sports enthusiast, Pradeep Ravi, said, “The police officials were right to take strict action against the child’s father as there are specific guidelines and age category for participating in various motor sports events. The rules need to be followed and anyone who makes a minor do such dangerous rides should be booked.” 

Pradeep also highlighted there are hardly any sports arenas in the state where a motor sports enthusiast can practise and, hence, they are forced to look for venues outside the state. “People in the state are not so supportive about motor sports and consider them as something against the law. Even the motor vehicles department has been regularly booking motor sports enthusiasts for vehicle modifications and citing other violations. Instead of just installing cameras for checking violations, steps should be taken by the authorities concerned to improve the condition of the roads,” said Pradeep.

Sujeesh Kolothody, state president of the Kerala Adventure Sports Clubs and president of the Off-road Association of Kerala (OAK), said, the issue is that motor sports are not yet considered as sports in Kerala. 

“Arunachal Pradesh is as developed a state like Kerala, a national motor sports event is conducted there every year. Even in Goa, the Rainforest Challenge, an off-road national event, is held. It is considered one of the toughest challenges in the country. In all these events, the top racers to finish have been Malayalis for years. However, motor sports do not have much acceptance in our state.

“During the 2018 and 2019 floods, along with the police and other department officials, the rescue operations were also led by the off-road racers in the state. When a six-year-old is engaging in a motor sports event and that too, in a closed space without endangering the lives of others, the ability of the child should be encouraged rather than discourage him. Though the age group for motor sports in the country is 18 years, it varies in other countries. 

“Most of the off-road riders in the country are from Kerala. We are also planning to form a disaster cell with our riders and a proposal has also been submitted to the government in this regard.”Meanwhile, G Sajan, regional transport officer (RTO) Enforcement, Thiruvananthapuram, said, “Many cases have been registered against vehicle modification and illegal racing. Many a time, we have come across videos on social media of illegal racing and over six cases have been registered in Thiruvananthapuram itself. Even the professional racers do not have the authority to race in public places risking the lives of others.”

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G Sajan, regional transport officer (RTO) Enforcement, Thiruvananthapuram, said many cases have been registered against vehicle modification and illegal racing. They come across videos on social media of illegal racing and over six cases have been registered in Thiruvananthapuram itself.

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