Police were left red-faced after an 18-hour operation at Lovely Bar in Santacruz went in vain; they tore down wall after wall, only to realise that the girls had climbed to the upper floor through a ladder in a secret room and escaped
A seemingly routine raid on Thursday night turned into a massive operation for a team from the Mumbai Police’s Social Service (SS) Branch, which ended up breaking down three walls of a Santacruz bar in pursuit of the bargirls it had been tipped off about.
Almost 18 hours after the operation began, the 12 officials realised they had been hoodwinked when the third wall was torn down and revealed a room leading to the upper floor, from where the girls had given the cops the slip. The cops carried out a thorough search of the other floor as well, but had to return empty handed.
Police had to call in construction workers to break down parts of the cement wall. After breaking down three cement doors, they reached a room that revealed a ladder leading to the upper floor
Entering the maze
The Social Service branch had received a tip-off that a lot of girls were present and indecent activities were taking place at Lovely Bar and Restaurant at Gazdhar Bandh road, Santacruz (West).
Accordingly, Deputy Commissioner of Police Pravin Patil of the Enforcement Department asked a team of the Social Service Branch to secretively carry out a raid on Thursday night.
The tip-off seemed even more credible since Lovely Bar is located near two other bars Starnight and Lakshadeep where raids had been carried out earlier and a large number of bargirls had been found.
“We had confirmed information and accordingly raided the bar, hoping to find some girls there,” said Sanjay Salunkhe, police inspector of the SS Branch. When the police raided the bar around 10 pm, however, they only found four girls there a number permissible for an orchestra bar.
Suspecting something amiss, the team spent hours examining every inch of the bar, and realised that one of the mirrors was mounted on a portion of the wall that was actually a cement door and could lead to a secret chamber for the girls to flee from, in case of police raids.
Workers at the bar denied this, and the police had to call in a team of construction workers to break down that portion of the cement wall. “We managed to tear down the cement door behind the mirror, but it took us around two hours,” said Salunkhe.
In the wee hours of Friday, the police managed to enter the space that the cavity led to and reached a make-up room, which did not have any other evident exits. A search, however, revealed another mirror mounted on another cement door.
Tearing down a portion of the wall led the cops to an unadorned room, where they did not find the girls either. Their suspicions roused, the cops did not give up and found a small gap which hinted at another door in the opposite wall.
“After breaking down three cement entrances, we reached a room that led the girls to the upper floor. We realised that the girls had managed to flee from there,” said Salunkhe.
A search of the first floor of the ground-plus-one structure confirmed that the girls had fled and the police were left red-faced as their hard work, beginning on Thursday night and stretching to Friday evening, had gone to waste. They ended up charging the bar owner under a minor section, which only carries a fine.
“We have booked the bar’s licencee under Section 33 (W) of the Bombay Police Act as the licence holder was not present in the bar, and have also informed the Santacruz police about structural violations in the bar under the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act.
They will inform the BMC about this,” said Inspector Vilas Datir of the SS Branch. The police team, which had reached the bar at 10 pm on Thursday, left only at 6 pm yesterday.