Yet again, Mumbai’s party scene is under scrutiny. Only a few days ago, ACP (Social Service Branch) Vasant Dhoble, responsible for the sudden crackdown on nightlife, told HT Café, “I will be able to register cases for immoral activities in each and every hotel. There is no single discotheque where there are no such activities taking place.”
This time, Mumbai Police conducted a raid on Juhu’s popular rooftop lounge, Azok. While most city lounges and club owners — now tired of debating such incidents — refused to comment, some feel that the raid may cause a significant drop in business for a while.
Ritik Bhasin, co-owner of Kala Ghoda’s LIV says, “People are not going to go anywhere for the next two to three weeks after this. There are a lot of innocent people who probably won’t be allowed to step out now.”
According to reports, the police seized over 100 grams of cocaine, along with some ecstasy pills and MDMA at the suburban joint. Club owners feel that it’s difficult to have a 100 per cent success rate at preventing patrons from sneaking illegal substances into their venues. Still, they plan to strengthen the current checking process.
Nick Kachare, co-owner of Panache, a lounge in Fort, says, “Business has already been affected ever since the crackdown began. Drugs can be easily hidden. But from now on, we are going to beef up security.”
While many city establishments already make sure their patrons are frisked twice— first, as they pass through metal detectors and again as the bouncers check bags — Sudeip Nair, director of event organisers Culture Shoq, says, “People can hide stuff in their shoes and underwear too, and no can check that. But there are other precautions in place. We make sure that we check wallets too. If all this is in place, it’s not the organiser’s fault if someone is caught.”
‘If you go up there, they’ll just take you to the station’Model-actor Sofia Hayat, who was seconds away from Azok when it was busted, recounts the entire incident.
The party started at 5 pm. I got to Oakland at about 7 pm, and was waiting for a girlfriend before heading to Azok to join Wayne Parnell and Rahul Sharma (both Pune Warriors cricketers), at the sundowner. I was chatting with Wayne on BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) when, at about 7.20 pm, I saw 15-20 police officers enter from the back door.
I didn’t know what this was about, so I walked towards the elevator. Then, a group of women officers, whom I hadn’t seen enter earlier, stepped in. I asked them what the problem was, before proceeding upstairs, but a friend of mine warned me against that.
She said, ‘you don’t know the Indian police. Stay away. If you go up there, they’ll just take everyone to the station.’ By then officers were searching the floors for joints, stubs and drugs, hoping someone would have tossed something down.
— Inputs from Shalvi Mangaonkar
Celebs and drugs
Fardeen Khan: The actor, way back in 2001, was caught buying cocaine. After 11 years, he has finally managed to draw himself out of this controversy after voluntarily undergoing a detox programme.
DJ Aqeel: In 2007, the popular DJ was arrested at Dubai airport for possession of drugs. Since the test results weren’t accurate, he was freed of charges.
Rahul Mahajan: Soon after the death of his father Promod Mahajan in 2006, Rahul was brought to Apollo Hospital in Delhi after overdosing on cocaine.
Sakshi Khanna: Vinod Khanna’s youngest son was caught at a rave party at Karjat last year. He was tested for alcohol and drug abuse and released after three hours of interrogation.