'Will pro-dance bar activists allow one near their homes?'

His crusade against dance bars is far from over -- state Home Minister RR Patil made this amply evident yesterday, strutting his stuff in Vidhan Bhavan. He panned detractors who have been targeting him after the Supreme Court judgment on the matter, asking whether they would allow opening of one of these joints near their homes.

“The decision to ban dance bars was taken at a time when the situation demanded this. Had we not prohibited these establishments, the law and order situation in Mumbai would have gone from bad to worse, rivalling that of some infamous international cities. It was never my personal agenda, and the ban was announced only after legislators from all parties demanded this in the assembly. Even the amendment to Bombay Police Act was made only after a draft was prepared by the state law and judiciary department, and approved by the state advocate general and later by the cabinet. Finally, the bill was passed after debate in the legislature,” contended the minister.

Patil also said that five hotels of five-star category have asked the state to cancel licences granted to them for dance performances. These hotels, despite being permit holders for years, have not used them even once. Eight hotels still possess the licences.

“Would these activists be able to justify their support for dance bars before their family members?” asked the home minister, adding, “I have seen campaigners defending illegal slums approach the government for removal of shanties from near their homes.”

Asked whether he would discuss the issues raised by pro-dance bar activists with them, Patil said being a home minister he has a number of matters to deal with. “I am not a dance bar minister and am more concerned about terrorism and Naxalism.”

On the subject of discrimination while dealing with bar dancers and their constitutional rights, Patil said protection of dignity of women was also a directive principle of the constitution.

“A delegation approached me, asking for bootlegging to be legalised. Can we sanction things that are generally not acceptable to society?” questioned the home minister. 

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