Away from Dhoble's eyes, Mumbai nightspots flout all rules

Oct 21, 2013, 07:40 IST | Bhupen Patel

A year after anti-nightlife crusader ACP Vasant Dhoble was transferred out of the Social Service Branch, MiD DAY goes on the prowl at night, only to find discos and eateries violating deadlines, hookah and dance bars flourishing, and rules going out the window

It’s been a year and a month since Vasant Dhoble -- looselydescribed by the pro-party kinds as The Bad Cop out to kill Mumbai’s nightlife, and by the conventional-types as The Good Cop out to reclaim Mumbai’s morality -- was shunted out of the Social Service branch to the police control room. And the vacuum he left behind is now brimming with the buzz of loud music, happy feet and late nights -- in merry breach of the laws he strove hard to enforce, or force on the public. In a weeklong operation, MiD DAY discovered that not a single pub, eatery or disco has been keeping the deadline; hookah parlours are still operating in Andheri, Khar and other suburbs despite a strict ban; and dance bars -- in grey territory with the court lifting the state’s ban on them but the government loath to give them its nod -- are open until early hours, with currency notes raining on the dancers.

Man of law: ACP Vasant Dhoble served the Social Service branch from March 14, 2011 to September 17, 2012

End of reign
Dhoble, who served as assistant commissioner of police of the Social Service branch of Mumbai police from March 14, 2011 to September 17, 2012, was feared by hawkers, party-goers, bar dancers, drunk drivers and the management of late-night joints in the same measure. With a string of raids, he had clamped down on late-night establishments staying open after the deadline laid down by a colonial-era law.

His hockey-wielding and public-shaming antics forced several brothels, bars, and clubs, flouting a spectrum of rules relating to permits and closing time, to bring their shutters down. His penchant for the law, even its impractical aspects, made him a talking point on everything from blogs and news channels to national dailies.

But empirical data on the number of raids by Dhoble compared to the ones subsequently conducted by the police reveal how the laws regulating these joints are restricted to paper. “The rest of the police force has not even matched 50 per cent of Dhoble sahab’s performance. Dance bars and hookah bars are still operating and discos never keep the deadlines. What is the point of decreeing such a ban?” said a south Mumbai resident Ashraf Khan, who received this information through an RTI query filed earlier this month.

When contacted, Assistant Commissioner of Police Bhagwan Chate, spokesperson for the Mumbai police, said, “Our raids are constant. The Social Service branch continues raiding bars. In fact we raided one in Andheri on Saturday. The local police are alert too.” He had no answer to why cops had not been able to implement the ban on hookah bars.

Moreover, all efforts of the home department helmed by RR Patil to issue a fresh ordinance reimposing a blanket ban on dance bars will go in vain unless the local police implement the existing rules.  

Dance bars
Rule says: Not more than four girls are allowed on the floor including the singer. Showering money on the dancers is completely banned. Bars should shut by 12.30 am, and smoking is strictly prohibited inside the premises.

Harmony bar Nagar, Chembur
Money kept raining on the dancers. Not a single rule was followed, as customers were smoking in the premises and business went on well past the deadline.

Laxmi Pumjab (LP) bar and Restaurant
Chakala, Andheri (E)

Around 8-10 girls were seen dancing and the customers showered them with money. The bar remained open till early morning hours.

Carnival bar & Restaurant
Dr Annie Besant Road, Worli
Dancers entertained the patrons and were showered with currency notes. Post-midnight, there was panic in the bar when a policeman dropped in. All the girls were asked to leave the floor, and in no time, cigarette packs were cleared from customers’ table. As soon as the cop left, things went back tothe way they were

Hookah parlours
STYX Yari Road, Andheri (W)

The place operated as a hookah bar as well as a snooker and pool parlour. Hookah was available in many flavours

Outlawed: serving hookah is strictly banned in the city

Hookah parlours

STYX Yari Road, Andheri (W)
The place operated as a hookah bar as well as a snooker and pool parlour. Hookah was available in many flavours 

Discotheques and pubs
None of the establishments followed the 1.30 am deadline. At some pubs, the billing machine was tampered with to ensure that the time on the bills was printed within the deadline.

Alibi restaurant and bar: Minu Desai Road, Colaba

F BAR IndiaBulls, Elphinstone Road

The party doesn’t stop: The F Bar & Lounge stayed open till the wee hours. The lounge was still serving customers at 3:17 am

Raids on bar

Raids on brothels

Shiro lounge bar Bombay Dyeing Mill Compound, PB Marg, Worli


Flouting deadlines: The place was buzzing through the evening and the time on the credit card slip (2:09 am) shows that customers were being served beyond the deadline

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