A hookah parlour operating across the road from the Mumbai Police headquarters was shut down early on Saturday morning. This is the second case since the state government imposed a total ban on the sale of hookah earlier this month.
Shivdeep Lande, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Anti Narcotics Cell, raided the restaurant, Ustaadi, which is located at Sitaram Building on DN Road, metres away from the Crawford Market police headquarters.
Until last year, Ustaadi was known as Zaffran, a successful chain of restaurants known for its Mughlai food, co-founded by chef Chetan Sethi and Munib Birya.
The police arrested Birya and a manager, Imran Khan, along with three waiters employed at the restaurant. Five customers at the restaurant were allowed to go.
A senior police official said the owners had been running a smoking room on the first floor of the restaurant but shut it soon after the ban came into effect on October 4. Officials, who were part of the crackdown team, said the hookah parlour was located on the top floor of the building and had to be accessed from deep inside the restaurant.
“Hookah was being sold two floors above the restaurant, but not too many people knew about it. The narrow entrance to the parlour and wood stored at the rear of the room made it a fire hazard,” a senior police official said. The police seized 30 hookah pots and 38 pipes from the premises.
Those arrested were booked with committing mischief using fire or an explosive substance under the IPC by the MRA Marg police station. They were also booked under sections of the amended Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, which carry a prison sentence of between one and three years and a fine of Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh.
In the first case, following the amendment to the Act that was registered on October 7, the police raided Chilly and Spice — a restaurant in Kandivali — for serving hookah to its customers.