LAHORE - Perhaps this is the first Independence Day over the years celebrated in Lahore with no loss of life related to wheelie, thanks to the city police for launching a major clampdown on underage motorcyclists.

The more the police came down hard on the eve-teasers, quicker they disappeared from city roads.

In addition to Police Response Units and Dolphin Force, some 10,000 police were put on high-alert yesterday across the metropolis to keep the situation under control as people took to streets to celebrate August 14.

A spokesman for the Edhi Foundation, a charity that runs ambulances to helps victims of accidents and disasters, told The Nation last night that this was a perfect and peaceful Independence Day observed in Lahore with no major accidents or causalities. “We did not see this year what happens on August 14 (Independence Day) every year in Lahore,” said Muhammad Younis Bhatti.

“The police were very active and there was no major accident,” he added.

Last year, three young men lost their lives while doing wheelie in Lahore on the eve of Independence Day. Twenty-year-old Rehan, 24-year-old Imran, and a teenage boy had died as their bikes hit roadside poles or footpaths. Dozens others were also wounded in such incidents.

In 2006, as many as 15 persons lost their lives and over 400 sustained injuries, dozens of them critically, when they were performing stunts on their bikes in Lahore and the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Some 40 people mostly young men were killed in wheelie-related accidents in Lahore in three years (from 2003 to 2006). In 2004, three women also lost their lives owing to the recklessness driving of joy-riders. Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif last week reviewed the security arrangements for I-Day celebrations. On the occasion, the chief minister stated: “Nothing is more important than protection of lives and properties of citizens. Foolproof security should be ensured on August 14.”

The CM directed the police to remain vigilant and launch a crackdown against those involved in one-wheeling. “Such stunts will not be tolerated,” he held.

Lahore police constituted special teams to control one-wheeling. Some 60 motorcyclists were sent to jails for performing stunts on the back-wheel of their two-wheelers during the last week. Also, cops set up surprise pickets on all the leading roads to intercept the movement of one-wheelers and underage motorcycle riders.

Capital City Police Officer Muhammad Amin Wains approved the security plan for the provincial metropolis and directed the field police officers to observe zero-tolerance against one-wheeling. The city police chief, in his video message, appealed to the parents to keep a check on the activities of their boys and never allow motorcycle-ride to underage drivers. He also warned the parents that the police would send the suspects to jail in case they were caught doing wheelie.

DIG (Operations) Dr Haider Ashraf himself supervised the police operations to discourage the rising trend of one-wheeling. “We spent sleepless night to stop one-wheeling and the whole day conducting search operations and snap-checking amid security threats,” he said.

Like best security arrangements on I-Day, the city police must continue their efforts to stop the trend of one-wheeling once and for all.