It is better to be safe than merry. That seems to be the idea behind the West Bengal government’s decision to close down nightclubs across the state at the stroke of midnight.
The decision comes on the heels of the Park Street rape and the controversy it whipped up.
On February 5, a woman in her 30s agreed to be dropped home by an acquaintance after coming out of a nightclub. However, once she got into the car, the man and his friends assaulted and raped her in the moving vehicle.
After hearing about the decision to close down nightclubs by midnight, the victim told HT, “This is perhaps the easiest way to deal with the situation. What the government ought to do is provide more security on city streets. Those going inside nightclubs may be checked stringently. People should be asked to produce identity cards at the entrance.”
The state excise department issues licenses to establishments serving liquor for all days of the year except dry days. This license, however, does not permit customers to have a drink beyond midnight.
“Since the peak hour for nightclubs and discotheques starts after 11pm, we issue a Late Closure Licence for such establishments. The LCL permits customers to have drinks till 2am. An LCL has to be renewed every month,” said an excise officer.
Generally, night club owners seek the LCL for Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. But following the decision, the state excise department will no longer issue LCLs.
Once the excise approval is obtained, nightclub owners have to seek another clearance from the joint commissioner of Kolkata Police.
Nightclubs have to pay the government Rs 8,000 for every night of extended business.
“I have already applied for LCL for the month of March on February 20. They told us they have decided not to extend bar timings beyond midnight for this month. But no reason was cited,” said Bunty Sethi, owner of city nightclubs such as Venom and Starstruck.
“The decision would affect our business. We won’t be able to meet our establishment costs,” he added.