The Mumbai Police’s cup of woes seems to be brimming over following Thursday’s hotel raids, in which nearly 40 couples were rounded up, booked for ‘indecency in public’ and humiliated, with many of them even being asked to call their parents.
Harish Shetty, who runs Mantra Residency, from where 13 couples were picked up
Even as the outrage on social media continued despite Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria ordering a probe, the owner of one of the hotels that was raided has now come out in the defence of his guests who were subjected to the harassment and demanded stern action against the officials responsible for the raids.
Harish Shetty, who runs Mantra Residency in Madh Island, from where 13 of the 40 couples were rounded up, has become the eyewitness in the case and given a statement to Additional Commissioner of Police (North Region) Fateh Singh Patil, who is conducting the probe on behalf of the Mumbai Police.
Shetty and a delegation from the Indian Hotel And Restaurant Association (AHAR) met Patil and gave him a letter, demanding stern action against the officials who humiliated the guests in the name of acting against ‘indecent behaviour’. They have even threatened to move court if action is not taken.
The delegation informed Patil that the couples who were picked from Shetty’s hotel were not at fault. The letter mentions that those who have been booked were guests of the hotel and apart from humiliating them, the Malwani police team’s action has also tarnished the image of the hotel.
The delegation informed that the hotel obeys all laws, maintains proper guest registers and even has CCTVs installed. AHAR president Adarsh Shetty said, “We met the additional commissioner and have asked him to take strict action against the guilty. The action has not just damaged the reputation of the hotel in question but all the hotels under AHAR.
We have told the Addl CP to give us in writing that they won’t conduct such baseless raids in our hotels from here on. They have asked for two days to finish the inquiry and, based on the outcome, we will decide whether to take the legal route”.
“People who came to the hotel were our guests. They were humiliated for no reason. If the police have to take action, they should take it against us if we are guilty. We followed the law. What has hurt me most is that the guests were humiliated and insulted,” said Harish Shetty from Mantra Residency.
“After the raid, people are scared to come to the hotel. We are running the hotel in a legal manner. We have maintained our records. We always demand ID proof and have installed CCTVs on the entire premises,” he said. Harish Shetty even promised to give the fine amount to the couples who were booked by the police.
“Some guests had called me and said that they were humiliated for staying in my hotel and demanded the money which was taken by the police. I am ready to give them the money as they were my guests and were harassed for no reason,” he said.
According to police sources, Addl CP Fateh Singh Patil told the delegation that the inquiry is on and the results will be out in two days. They also claimed that rapes of two minors had taken place in the hotel in the past, after which strict rules were put in place.
“We are against moral policing but we had to check every room to verify that no illegal activities were taking place. This resulted in a delay and the couples had to wait,” said a police officer.
‘Have to hide my face’
Meanwhile, a victim of the raid told mid-day yesterday that he is still scared of stepping out of his house. He said he either does not go out or does so with a handkerchief on his face. “We are adults and not minors.
mid-day has accessed Thursday’s footage from CCTV cameras in the hotel, which show cops during the raid, the register being checked and the couples being rounded up
Why were we booked for public indecency for being in a private hotel room? It is our personal life and the police should not interfere. I have stopped stepping out of my house or cover my face when I do so. There were many people who saw me and I am scared that they will recognise me when I am out,” he said.
“The police are lying. They should check the diary and documents we submitted to the hotel when we check in. We request them to check the CCTV footage of the hotel. It is a clear case of moral policing; of entering into hotel rooms and disturbing someone’s personal life,” he added.