Reopening of dance bars may lead to spurt in crime:Maha Police

Reopening of dance bars may lead to spurt in crime:Maha Police

Describing dance bars as the "dens of anti-social elements", Maharashtra police today expressed fears that the reopening of these places might lead to increase in crimes in the state.

Seven years after they were banned, dance bars can again run in Maharashtra with the Supreme Court today upholding a Bombay High Court verdict quashing the state government's order.

The state police authorities and former IPS officers  said the business of dance bars may now flourish and these centres might mushroom.

They opined that if the dance bars came up in good numbers, it would increase pressure on the police force, which is already reeling under severe staff crunch.

"This (restarting of dance bars) might result in revival of activities of the underworld and anti-social elements. There have been several instances in the past which suggest that the accused have held meetings in the bars to decide their targets," said a crime branch official.

Another official said that dance bars encourage night life beyond permissible time, which may prompt drunken driving incidents, late night fights on the streets or even robberies etc.

"Criminals and gang leaders routinely visit dance bars. They shower their ill-gotten money on the bar girls. They use dance bars as a recruiting ground for robbers. These are dens of anti-social elements," the officer said.

Former Maharashtra DGP P S Pasricha sought greater supervision to ensure proper operations of the dance bars.

"Rules and regulations for operations of dance bars should be very stringent. Illegal or semi-nude activities should not be allowed. No doubt, there would be an increased pressure on the police due to the restart of such bars," he added.

Former IPS officer-turned-lawyer Y P Singh described the dance bars as breeding ground for underworld, prostitution and drugs rackets.

"Due to rampant corruption in the police department, it is very difficult to ensure proper operations of the dance bars and this would result in increase in the crime," he said. However, Fight for Rights of Bar Owners' Association vice president Pravin Kumar Agrawal rubbished the police claims. "First of all, we would like to welcome the Supreme Court ruling," Agrawal said.

If the police feel that the anti-social elements gather at the bars, then police personnel could be deployed there to catch the accused, Agarwal quipped.

"When dance bars operated earlier, policemen were deployed outside the bars. When the ban was imposed, even then the cops were posted outside the bars. Now all of a sudden why the issue of more work pressure on the police force is being raised?," Agrawal asked.

In its plea before the Supreme Court, the state government had contended that prostitution rackets were being run under the garb of beer bars and indecent and vulgar performances, "derogatory to the society" were taking place.

The government had also contended that while there were only 345 licenced dance bars, about 2,500 unlicensed bars were doing business in Maharashtra.

Various organisations representing dance bars had also submitted that there were over 70,000 women engaged in dance bars and several of them had already left the business or committed suicide due to unemployment and financial crunch.

They had said that with as many as 72 per cent of the bar girls being married and 68 per cent being sole bread earners of their family, the state government's order has rendered them jobless and had been rightly struck down as "arbitrary and unconstitutional" by the high court.

As per police estimates, total turnover of dance bar owners alone per annum is to the tune of Rs 100 crore. Monthly income of a dance bar girl ranges from Rs 9,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh.

Total number of dance bars in Mumbai earlier (with and without licences) was about 750. Approximate number of bar girls in the state was about 75,000 and approximate number of male staff employed was 1,25,000.

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