Mumbai police asks Malabar Hill eateries to shut shop without giving any reason

Apr 13, 2018, 20:03 IST | Anurag Kamble

Small eateries in Teen Batti area had been asked by the Malabar Hill police to shut shop in January without being given an explanation, with shop owners charged with several offences.

Rahul's Food Court and Just Bite in Malabar Hill. Pics/Bipin KokateRahul's Food Court and Just Bite in Malabar Hill. Pics/Bipin Kokate

More than a decade old and popular among those frequenting the area, hole in the wall Malabar Hill eateries Just Bite and Rahul's Food Court had no idea that the fire at Kamala Mills nearly 8 km away would harm their business. It's been over three months now, the local police have denied them the permission to start operations. Reason: Your guess is as good as our or theirs - owners of the eateries claimed they have been told anything.

Small eateries in Teen Batti area had been asked by the Malabar Hill police to shut shop in January without being given an explanation, with shop owners charged with several offences. The latter have now moved court to seek justice against the police, who have, even now, posted two constables outside the eateries for constant surveillance.

Shutter down
Owner of Just Bite Kalpesh Kokate said, "In the first week of January, owners of food joints across Malabar Hill were called by the senior inspector and told to keep their eateries shut. We didn't know the reason, but all of us kept mum; after all, we have to work with them."

After shutting down operation for almost a month, all eateries reopened in February. When Rahul's Food Court and Just Bite tried to reopen, they were allegedly charged under IPC section 285 (negligent conduct with fire or combustible matter).

"I thought it must be due to the gas burner we used for cooking. So, I removed it and installed induction barbeque, but again, I was booked under the same section. I was stunned..." said Kokate. Owner of Rahul's Food Court said, "I don't know the reason behind this action. I am talking to the police about it."

Seeking court help
Owners of the eateries said that when they changed the functioning of their joints, the police slapped them with an offence under IPC section 283 (obstruction to public way). "It's been three months now that my eatery has been closed. I have to pay my five employees salaries, even though I am not earning a single penny," said Kokate, adding, "Fed up with the attitude of the cops, I have moved court. It has heard my case and kept the next hearing on April 16."

Another owner of an establishment facing the same said, "It's getting tough for us; we don't know why exactly the police have asked us to shut down our businesses." Repeated calls and messages to Malabar Hill police station's senior inspector Vinod Kamble went unanswered.

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