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Last orders: Are Mumbai's 2,311 bars a security threat?

india Updated: Feb 08, 2013 18:38 IST
Serena Menon
Serena Menon
Hindustan Times

According to a recent news report, “In all, 2,311 bars in the city are licensed to serve foreign liquor, of which 359 are located in the 32.83 sq km-area of Bandra, Khar and Santacruz.”

Though this heartening information might inspire a few bar crawls, the suburban residents association that procured this data by filing an RTI obviously isn’t very happy with the finding.

The ALM (Advance Locality Management) feels these bars are a security concern. “Most residential areas in the western suburbs are dotted with bars and pubs, which questions the overall safety of the area (sic),” activist Aftab Siddiqui was quoted as saying. According to her, this overall safety, we’re assuming, is under threat because of the crowds. But is it, really? Wouldn’t walking by a street full of people feel safer than strolling down a deserted lane at night?

Take for instance a city like Delhi. It doesn’t enjoy the proximity to pubs like Mumbai does. The residential areas there are truly secluded. Then as per Ms Siddiqui’s logic, those areas should be much safer. But are they?

I was at Park Street in Kolkata a week ago, experiencing vintage nightlife in all its glory, when a friend warned me to stay alert as there was an incident of a woman being knifed in the area. The third scene of its kind, this month, she said.
So I asked around, and was told that the location of the incident is further away from where I was, in a deserted area near a cemetery. After transferring the can of pepper spray from my bag to my pocket, the night continued.

Nonetheless, it would be ridiculous to claim that Mumbai’s nightlife alone makes it a safer city, a fact that today many may even justifiably argue.

But my experiences after-hours in this city and in other metros in the country only urge me to believe that I would much rather live in an area that is relatively livened by people; safety in numbers after all. Now if that means having “11 pubs for every 1 sq km from Bandra to Santacruz” is a good thing, I’m not complaining.