A week after a man was murdered outside a restaurant at Infocity area of Gandhinagar following a ruckus between two groups, various restaurant owners in the area have claimed the police have been forcing them to shut shop at 9 pm every day, even as no night curfew has been announced for the state capital amid coronavirus pandemic, thereby making the eateries suffer losses.
Around 5 am on November 25, Ketansinh Gohil, a resident of Randesan in Gandhinagar, was allegedly beaten up and then stabbed to death by a group of six men outside The Lockdown Unlock Food restaurant near Reliance Chokdi (intersection) at Infocity area of Gandhinagar.
Gohil was killed in an alleged fight between two groups when one of his friends allegedly followed the other group in his car after they left Apna Adda eatery, located adjacent to The Lockdown Unlock Food restaurant, around 4.30 am. While The Lockdown Unlock Food was closed at the time of the incident, Apna Adda was still open, the FIR filed at Infocity police station states. Police have arrested five persons in the case till now.
After the incident, dozens of restaurant and eatery owners at Bhaijipura, Reliance Chokdi, Kudasan and Sargasan areas have alleged that they are being forced to shut their shops after 9 pm even as there was no directive for a night curfew in Gandhinagar, unlike Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat and Vadodara that are witnessing nightly curfews between 9 pm to 6 am.
“For the past week, as soon as the clock hits 9 pm, Police Control Room Vans start playing their hooters asking restaurant owners to shut their shops and customers to vacate. We are incurring heavy losses due to this unofficial lockdown as the bulk of our customers arrive post 8.30 pm. We can’t just ask our customers to stop eating and leave the premises. Even though there is no clear directive from the state government, the collector or the superintendent of police, we are forced to observe a curfew,” Alpesh Patel, owner of a paan parlour and Galaxy Dosa Shop at Bhaijipura, said.
“We are willing to observe a curfew and cooperate with the authorities but there should be a clear directive on the curfew timings. We have been suffering heavy losses for the past week as my staff have to prepare food from 7 pm and it all goes to waste. We have never remained open past 10.45 pm and followed all guidelines till now. Already our businesses have been hit due to the lockdown and now this unofficial curfew is making us suffer more,” Pratik, owner of Su Dharni restaurant at Bhaijipura, said.
Manu Jain, the owner of Terracotta Restaurant near Reliance Intersection, said after the murder, police have been ensuring that all restaurants are shut before 9 pm. “Like Ahmedabad, we don’t have any formal association to lodge a complaint with the higher authorities,” he said.
Gandhinagar Collector, Dr Kuldeep Arya, said, “The police can’t ask customers to leave while they are eating. We have not issued any guidelines for restaurants and shops to be shut after 9 pm. Even if police are doing this as a preventive measure after the murder, it cannot continue for days. We will look into the grievances of the restaurant owners.”
While SP Gandhinagar Mayur Chavda was unavailable for comments, police sources said the clampdown had begun after the murder as Apna Adda eatery was open till 4.30 am without a licence. A police official at Infocity police station said, “We have ensured that Apna Adda is not open after 9 pm.”
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