The upbeat atmosphere at Duru dance bar in Ulhasnagar takes many by surprise. Two reasons: firstly, its owners claim Duru isn’t a dance bar, and secondly, cops say the establishment’s licence has been revoked by order of the zonal DCP following the murder of a bookie inside the premises on June 18.
The proprietors, however, insist the cancellation is still being processed, and continue to run the joint unabashedly. But, the most interesting aspect of this bar is that it has been raided a record 1,503 times by cops in the last few years.
Duru, located at Nehru chowk, Ulhasnagar-II, is still running in full swing. Last week, a patron of the bar gave MiD DAY exclusive access to a video recording, which proves the bar is still open despite the cancellation of its licence, and there’s more to the place than meets the eye.
The bar added to its notoriety when bookie Rajesh Kukreja was stabbed to death here around 2.30 am on June 18. Strangely, the FIR shows the time of the crime as 1.30 am. Stranger still, police briefed the media that the incident occurred around 12.30 am.
At the time, then zonal DCP Dr Shivaji Rathod had told the press that police authorities had written to the concerned department to have the bar’s licence cancelled. MiD DAY tried to reach him, but he did not respond to our calls.
“The licence of the bar has been revoked. I did not know that it was open,” said Siddharth Wagh, senior inspector, Ulhasnagar-I police station.
“In 2005, police had booked the bar owner several times for not having appropriate licence. Once he was charged under Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act for carrying out illegal construction inside the bar,” said criminal lawyer Deepak Mishra. In 2005, Duru’s proprietor Rakesh Ramanna Rayi was killed over an ownership dispute.
Then commissioner of police SPS Yadav had asked police to take action on the bar. ACP Smita Pathak and local senior inspector Deepak Kurulkar had raided the establishment at least 12 times, but their attempts to have the joint down its shutters failed.
Yadav then constituted a special team headed by ACP VM Rathod from Thane. The squad raided Duru and found 27 bar girls and 72 clients. Interestingly, the bar’s owners keep two guard dogs on the terrace. During the police operation, the dancers took refuge on the porch, and cops had to beat a hasty retreat after being confronted by the vicious canines.
The present proprietors of the bar insist there is nothing amiss at the establishment. Following the raids, the owners filed a writ petition in Bombay High Court alleging police harassment and claimed that the only entertainment at Duru was an orchestra and that it was not a dance bar as widely publicised. The video in MiD DAY’s possession, however, tells a different story.
Sources say there are three cabins here for customers. The first one is for ordinary patrons. The second is usually occupied by businessmen. The third is for bookies, criminals, and police officers. Sources also claimed the bar management pays Rs 10,000 per day to Ulhasnagar-I police as hafta.
The other side
“The licence has not been cancelled. Cancellation is under process. It is untrue that the bar is open. We have shut it down after the murder of Kukreja. There has been no police action on the bar in the last three years,” said Dilip Shetty, one of the owners of Duru.