A fast buck being made through hookahs in several city-based clubs has become a challenge for the UT Police. Despite banning the use of hookahs at public places in view of COVID-19, the city-based clubs, bars and restaurants have been caught repeatedly for violating the directives of UT Administration.
Since restrictions imposed in the lockdown were lifted, the serving of hookahs was banned in Chandigarh. Reason: a hookah being used by numerous people increases chances of the spread of the virus.
In the last one month, seven FIRs against the owners and managers of nightclubs, pubs have been lodged for serving hookahs to customers. The money being charged hourly ranges from Rs 800, Rs 1200, Rs 1800 and even Rs 2500.
On Monday night, the manager of nightclub Bargain Booze, Parbhat Saini, in Sector 26, was arrested for serving three hookahs to the customers. He was arrested under Section 188 of the IPC. Later, he was released on regular bail.
A police officer said, “It is the easiest money for the management of nightclubs. Through hookahs, they earn hourly. People, especially youngsters, use this because they contribute money for each hookah. Charges depend on the size of hookah. Amidst the pandemic of CoVID-19, UT Administration banned hookahs in view of virus spread. The ban orders were issued under Section 144 of the CrPC. Earlier also, there was a crackdown on hookahs but in a joint operation of the local police and health department.”
Sources said as a complete ban on hookahs is in force in Punjab, which adopted legislation against hookahs making it a criminal offence, people from that state rushed towards Chandigarh. The state of Punjab follows the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018.
Advocate Ajay Jagga said, “Chandigarh, which is the first city to make smoking an offence at public places, should adopt strict legislation against hookahs. As there is a blanket ban on hookahs in Punjab, people come here for satisfying their addiction.”
On November 28, Neeraj Kharab, owner of Ministry of Bar Exchange, a nightclub in Sector 26, was arrested for serving hookah to customers violating the UT orders. On November 5, managers of two nightclubs in Sector 26 were arrested for serving hookahs against the UT instructions.
Hookahs were being served in Riff Bar and Boulevard nightclub. Those arrested included Manish Sharma, manager of Riff Bar, and Ravi, manager with Boulevard nightclub.
On June 27, six people, including a manager and the cashier of Sector 7 restaurant Sultan, were arrested for defying social distancing, negligent act likely to spread infections of disease dangerous to life. Eight hookahs were also seized from a corner inside the restaurant, Ellusion.
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