After the state government banned dance bars in 2005, for the first couple of years, dancing in bars stopped completely, but after that many dance bars started operating under the garb of orchestra bars and hiring bar dancers as singers. This in turn initiated police raids and crackdown, which have continued till date.
There were two reasons why dancing stopped in the initial two years —firstly, the enforcement of the government diktat was stringent, with constables posted outside bars whose licences had been revoked so that they could not operate; and secondly, bar owners anticipated a turnaround verdict from Bombay high court where they had petitioned against the ban.
However, when the state obtained a stay from Supreme Court on the order issued in favour of bar owners by high court, dance bars started operating on the sly.
The social service branch (SSB), which is the nodal agency of the Mumbai police for enforcement of the ban, kicked into action and has been conducting drives against bars with varying regularity, essentially depending upon the determination of the unit’s senior officer to crack the whip.
Statistics show that the number of raids, arrests and rescue of girls increased during 2011-12 when assistant commissioner of police, Vasant Dhobale, headed SSB.
During the years before and after him, SSB’s action has been at a steady average of one to two raids a day.
At times, the SSB would also raid bars in Thane and Navi Mumbai, where dance bars thrived. After raids by SSB, several key police officials from Navi Mumbai have been transferred for not taking action against such bars in their jurisdiction.