Is it late-night partying and bar-hopping that jeopardise the safety of Delhiites? Yes, if Delhi police's latest diktat is any indication to go by.
After the December 16 incident, when a 23-year-old physiotherapist was brutally gangraped in a moving bus, the Delhi Police issued verbal instructions to bar and pub owners to shut shop by 12 midnight.
The order is seriously affecting the business of these bars, which reflects in the excise department's collection from the sale of liquor in pubs and bars. According to sources, the revenue fell by almost 25% in January this year compared to the same period last year.
"A police team barged into our bar a few days ago at 11.30pm and forced us to close it. The customers were asked to clear their bills. A constable returned at 12.05am to check if we had actually downed shutters. We now close by 12 midnight," said the manager of a resto-bar in south Delhi, requesting anonymity.
Most complaints have been reported from south and west Delhi.
According to excise rules, pubs and bars where liquor is served can be kept open till 1am. About 450 restaurants in Delhi serve liquor.
Delhi police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat, however, said there are no such directions.
"We want the bars to shut shop by 1am. There is a possibility that some policemen might have gone and reminded the restaurant management to start winding up the business so that they could close by 1am. Otherwise, some restaurant owners close their shops by 3am. If there is any specific complaint where the restaurant has been forced to close early, we can get it checked," Bhagat said.
The spokesperson of the National Restaurant Association of India said there had been a few cases in certain areas where such incidents have happened.
"We do not want any agency to violate the law. We are looking into these complaints," the spokesperson said.