A day before the first anniversary of the ban on smoking in public places, a restaurant manager from Panvel in Navi Mumbai, was killed following a brawl with customers who did not want to comply with the ban.
Forty-five-year-old Mehboob Deshmukh was beaten to death by customers at Himalay Punjab Beer Bar and Restaurant on Wednesday night because they wanted to smoke but waiters would not let them.
Mumbai has registered 60 per cent compliance with the ban since it was imposed on October 2, 2008. Of the 22,275 persons fined across the country for violating the ban, 3,690 were from Maharashtra.
The law permits restaurants with more than 30 seats to have “physically separated and separately ventilated” smoking rooms. However, the Panvel restaurant did not have that facility.
According to the police, four drunken customers walked into the restaurant, sat in the air-conditioned section and started smoking. The waiters objected and a brawl ensued.
The enraged customers dragged Deshmukh, who was in the billing section close by, outside and assaulted him. “He died of internal injuries,” said Senior Inspector Suresh Bhosale of Panvel police station.
The police arrested one of Deshmukh’s attackers, Mohan Gavandi. The other three accused are recuperating in hospital from injuries suffered in the brawl with the waiters. They will be arrested once they are discharged, Bhosale said.
Lawmakers are planning ways to make the ban more effective. The Centre has roped in bus conductors, education officers, railway ticket collectors and sub-inspectors to fine smokers Rs 200 for breaking the law.