Focus on law and order, not on bars and owners

Published: Dec 19, 2019, 05:12 IST | The Editorial | Mumbai

Over 50 aggrieved owners have come out in protest against the highhandedness of the police who, they say, have been posting constables on their premises, who sometimes force them to shut shop as early as 9 pm

Restaurant and bar owners from the western suburbs at the office of the additional commissioner of police in Bandra on Monday. Pic/ Shadab Khan
Restaurant and bar owners from the western suburbs at the office of the additional commissioner of police in Bandra on Monday. Pic/ Shadab Khan

City bar owners have mustered the courage to blow the lid of one of Mumbai's worst-kept secrets: policemen bullying bars to shut way before deadline, and making patrons and managers uncomfortable with their presence inside the premises.

The issue seems to have its origins in the distrust that the top brass has for local police stations. Being caught napping by the police chief appears to have galvanised local cops into flexing their muscle with restaurants and bars, largely in the teeming western suburbs. Over 50 aggrieved owners have come out in protest against the highhandedness of the police who, they say, have been posting constables on their premises, who sometimes force them to shut shop as early as 9 pm. In a city where a majority lets its hair down only post 10 pm, the over-the-top measure has left restaurateurs staring at high losses in business.

For a force that is woefully short staffed, this seems an unnecessary waste of manpower; for over a decade it has been struggling to fill 3,000-odd vacancies. Yet, it continues to deploy precious personnel for seemingly unnecessary jobs. The reason given this time is that during surprise checks initiated by the police chief, local cops were found not strictly enforcing the 1.30 am deadline. Does a deadline being flouted justify precious manpower wastage? When these foot soldiers can be deployed instead for law and order, why waste them twiddling their thumbs for hours inside bars. Another reason given is the prevention of 'illegal activities', with no one able to elaborate what exactly these illegal activities might be. On the face of it, it seems the police are back to their favourite activity — moral policing. This cannot be right at the top of the law enforcers' list. By all means, monitor bars and restaurants if you must, but inconspicuously. Strong-arm tactics will only be counterproductive. It would be wiser for the constables to enforce the law where needed, which is certainly not inside a bar and restaurant.

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