Last week's police crackdown on a party at the Oakwood hotel in Juhu has now taken a political spin. The Shiv Sena has come out in support of disk jockeys (DJs) who, the party says, have become soft targets for law-enforcement agencies.
"The first thing police do after raiding [a party] is beat up the DJ and seize his equipment," said Akshay Bardapurkar, president of the DJ Federation of India (DJFI), which is a wing of the Maharashtra Cable and Television Sena. "How is the DJ responsible if some people are consuming drugs," he asked. The federation claims it would shortly present its case before the state government and the police commissioner.
There are approximately 5,000 DJs operating in the city. The DJFI claims some of them have spent time behind the bars after being caught in police raids. After the raid at Oakwood hotel, the two DJs playing at the party were subjected to questioning over three days and their equipment was seized by the police. The jockeys have objected to such harassment, saying they are merely employees of the pub. "We are here to play music to entertain the people. We are hardly concerned with what is going on in the club," said Savio D'sa, a freelance DJ who performs at various clubs across the city.
Hoteliers have also denounced the police action saying it has caused havoc with the nightlife. "People are scared to come to clubs as they feel they can be jailed for dancing," said Sony Sachdeva, advisor, All Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association. "They have now shifted to house parties or end up partying outside city limits, which has affected business," he added.
However, police have defended their actions. "They can say what they want but many DJs operate without a licence," said Pratap Dighavkar, DCP (Zone IX). "We are acting according to the Bombay Police Act," he added.