August 6, 2012 1:19:09 am
After a break,the Social Service (SS) Branch of the Mumbai Police is back to its controversial crackdown on eateries in the city. A cafe and a restaurant were raided by the SS Branch in the early hours of Sunday for overcrowding and playing music without requisite licences.
The raids come less than a week after former DGP K Subramanyam had cautioned against the Vasant Dhoble style of moral policing. A day before he retired,Subramanyam had urged that law-enforcers must act with common sense and not force archaic laws on people.
The SS Branch had,for the past month,limited itself to raiding prostitution dens and cracking down on businesses where minors were employed. Dhoble,an ACP heading the SS Branch,had come under heavy fire from the citys youth,netizens and prominent personalities for his crackdown on nightspots in the city and for his views on immoral activities.
Several establishments,including high-end restaurants,were earlier raided and fined under seldom-used Sections of the Bombay Police Act for offences such as overcrowding.
Social media had been abuzz with posts about how the raids were uncalled for,with several residents asking the police to concentrate on solving crime rather than dictating what needed to be done about the citys night life.
The crackdown by the SS Branch had resulted in several protests,including a march and several online groups being created to condemn the police action. The polices biggest duty continues to be towards society and not to make judgements on them, Subramanyam had said at an official farewell ceremony.
Among the eateries raided in the early hours of Sunday were Cool Chef Cafe in Worli and Balthazar in Santacruz (West). SS Branch officers raided the establishments and fined them for not having requisite permissions to play music and for overcrowding. Tarun Thadani,the director of Cool Chef Cafe,said the SS Branch raided the premises when a birthday party was going on.
Officers came and asked us for our licences. The licensee in our case is my father and he was not present. We were fined and the SS Branch officers left, said Thadani. The Balthazar management was unwilling to comment.
ACP (SS Branch) Firoze Patel said both establishments were raided as they had flouted norms. We fined them because they did not have permission to play music and were overcrowded.
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