Pune police have predicted a drop in the flesh trade but an increase in other crimes and drink driving following the Supreme Court ruling on Maharashtras dance bars.
Before the ban was enforced eight years ago,Pune district had six licenced dance bars,three in Maval and three near Khed Shivapur and Narayangaon,and all situated along wither the old Pune-Mumbai Highway or the Pune-Satara Highway.
Since the ban,the bar dancers had to find alternative employment and police say many seem to have entered the flesh trade,which started flourishing under the garb of massage parlours or escort services. Senior inspector Bhanupratap Barge,in charge of the social security cell of the Pune police,said more than 30 per cent of the girls they come across during raids are found to have had a background in dance bars. We find out that invariably they were former dancers in bars. They drifted into the private flesh trade once the bars closed down, he said.
With the ban lifted,these former bar girls would be the first lot who would re-enter that profession since they have the skills, said an officer,implying that this would mean a drop in the flesh trade. Once the business starts settling down,newer girls would come into dance bars.
Varsha Kale,president of the Bharatiya Bar Dancers Union,agreed, The closure of dance bars had pushed many of them into flesh trade, she agreed. She said most former dance girls in Pune normally come from Uttar Pradesh,Bihar,Rajasthan and other parts of the country.
Describing the other side of the polices assessment of the rulings implications,an officer in Pune Rural police said,Going to a dance bar becomes an addiction with youths,who find it difficult to manage money daily. In most cases,the failure to tip the girls heavily results in the boys losing the girls attention. We had noticed that to raise quick money,many take to chain-snatching,petty extortion and illegal land dealings.
Kale dismissed such assessments and said the police and the administration at times draw inferences for their convenience. Its not correct to link dance bars with crimes, she said.
Local MLA Balasaheb Bhegde said that when dance bars were flourishing,the old Mumbai Pune Highway saw a series of accidents related to drunken driving. Highway Police officers too agreed that the period 2003-2005 saw around four accidents every day during the early hours.