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Cops shut Thane orchestra bars

New York is silent and Aishwarya has lost all charm. For the past four to five days, these popular watering holes—or ‘orchestra bars’ as they are called — in Mira Road and Kashimira have been closed because the police took away their loud speakers and music systems, reports Debasish Panigrahi.
By Debasish Panigrahi | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2010 01:07 AM IST

New York is silent and Aishwarya has lost all charm.

For the past four to five days, these popular watering holes—or ‘orchestra bars’ as they are called — in Mira Road and Kashimira have been closed because the police took away their loud speakers and music systems.

The Thane (rural) police have forced the 40-odd orchestra bars in its jurisdiction—Mira Road, Kashimira and Navghar police station areas—to shut shop because they used loud speakers without appropriate permission.

The police dismantled music systems in five bars and issued notices to others stop using speakers unless they obtain police permission.

“Why should anyone come here when there is no music?” an orchestra bar owner from Mira Road requesting anonymity asked.

“People would then prefer a normal bar over an orchestra bar.” Hindustan Times contacted at least three bars in Mira Road and Kashimira for reactions but they refused to comment.

Madhukar Pandey, superintendent of police (SP), Thane (rural) said orchestra bars, which used to be dance bars earlier, do not have permission to use loudspeakers.

“Dance bars had permission to use loud speakers. However, that permission expired following the ban on dance bars,” said Pandey.

“The bar owners obtained permission to run orchestra bars but did not bother seeking permission before installing sound systems.”

In a commissionerate like Mumbai, the police commissioner can suspend performance licences of bars and ensure their closure. However, in areas falling under an SP, the power is vested with the sub-divisional magistrate who is the licensing authority.

The police stumbled upon the loudspeaker permission clause in the law and used this to take action.

Police sources revealed that the police had received a drubbing from Home Minister R.R. Patil who was peeved with repeated complaints from residents about these orchestra bars allegedly doubling up as brothels.

The Mumbai police’s Social Service Branch recently raided half a dozen such bars and rescued over 130 women allegedly indulging in prostitution. The senior inspector of Kashimira police station was shunted. Despite this, the Thane (rural) police did not close down the bars.

Bar owners now applying for fresh permission will have to first satisfy the police that the establishment is sound proof. A bar owner will have to obtain clearances from neighbouring housing societies.

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