On the basis of the recommendations given by Commissioner of Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate Gyanwant Singh, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday has ordered a major crackdown against dance bars on VIP Road.
The Chief Minister has issued the necessary order to the excise department asking it not to renew the license of 30 such dance bars, sources said.
This dance bars were getting licence by influencing various excise officials along with connivance of some district officials.
Before Diwali, the Bidhannagar Police gave its recommendation to the excise department urging it not to renew the licence of the bars which are situated in the residential buildings and owners of which have criminal cases against them.
As per the record with the police, there are around 17 bars situated in residential buildings and owners of another 18 have criminal cases against them. There are some bars which are situated in residential buildings and there are criminal cases against its owners.
Moreover, the bar owners need to take a No-Objection certificate from the police to get their licence renewed. The Bidhannagar Commissionerate has also stopped giving clearances to such bar owners. As a result, such bars will not be able to get their licences renewed from the excise department.
The Bidhannagar Commissionerate also had reservations over the relaxation given to the bars to remain open for a couple of hours more after midnight during the Durga Puja and a senior police officer claimed that the clearance was then given by the excise department without any consultation with the police.
Currently, there are around seventy bars on both sides of VIP Road, fifty of which are dance bars. Multi-millionaire bar owners Jagjit Singh, Ajmal Siddiqui and Mahesh Chowdhury are the names which circulate in the “gloomy” world of bars which have mushroomed along VIP Road, Belgharia Expressway, Eastern Metropolitan Bypass and even Kalyani Expressway.
Ajmal was arrested a few months ago while Chowdhury, who was the landlord of Spice Garden bar near Haldirams, got arrested last month. Both were booked on charges of immoral trafficking of girls. Ajmal was arrested in connection with a complaint (case number 932) lodged against him with Baguiati police station on August 28. Later, the police found his involvement with immoral trafficking as well and another case under certain sections of Immoral Trafficking Act (case number 1212 dated November 4) had initiated.
Sources said that Jagjit and Ajmal are rivals of each other in the bar-business. Ajmal’s Baywatch Bar, which is also near Haldirams, was closed after his arrest. The police rescued 25 girls from a bar on VIP Road in March 2015 after two dancers of a bar had lodged complaint with the police. The dancers had alleged that a person had attempted to rape them and they were forced by the bar owner to go to that person.
Despite of the arrests of the couple of “ringmasters”, as the owners of the bars were described by a waiter, the dance bars remained open after midnight and in some cases even till dawn.
Violation of the guidelines of the Calcutta High Court as per the December 2015 order of Justice Dipankar Datta regarding dance bars was also “verbally” reported to the police even a month ago and made the Bidhannagar Commissionerate send its recommendation to the excise department. As per the order “professional entertainment including dance shall not be allowed before 7 pm and beyond 12 midnight.
Performers should neither wear clothes which expose their bodies nor wear tight provocative clothes…” But disturbance was created as the bars remain open even after midnight with the girls dancing wearing “provocative” clothes which left the local residents in deep trouble. But they neither had the “financial power” nor the “political power” to lodge written complaints against the “obscenity” and “disturbances created” due to the presence of the bars in residential areas.
The Bidhannagar Commissionerate had started receiving several “verbal” complaints from eminent people in the area and political fraternities. Subsequently the recommendation was sent to the excise department not to renew licence of those bars, said a senior police officer adding that “two or three bars were already closed after failing to renew the licence. The Commissionerate has not given them the NOC.