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Enter cops, exit nightlife

Bhubaneswar, July 29: Partying beyond the Cinderella Hour may be cool for the capital’s Gen Y but the police are seeing red. Led by Bhubaneswar deputy commissioner of police Nitinjeet Singh, the cops broke up a raucous party at a posh city hotel at Kharavela Nagar late last night.

Though no arrests were made, the cops seized the driving licences of about 25 revellers who were let off with a warning. Raids were also conducted at five other places. But it is this hotel, a favourite haunt of the nouveau riche, which is in focus.

Sources said the revellers were caught unawares by the raid that took place around 12.45am. The party participants included a minister’s son and some members of the Odia film fraternity. The crowd also included two alleged transvestite party-hoppers, who claimed to be tourists from Thailand and were unaware of the rules of the city. However, sources claimed their behaviour as pretension while divulging that they actually worked at a beauty salon in the capital.

A senior police officer said that driving licences had been seized to ascertain if minors were also present at the party. However, when no minors were found, the documents were returned to their owners after Kharavela Nagar police made a station diary in this regard.

Hotel authorities described the raid as a routine check by the police. “We had stopped serving liquor by 11.30pm as per rules and the guests were having their food. The police checked everything and asked us to vacate the place as it was too late for partying,” said Soumyajit Majumdar, food and beverages manager of the hotel.

Singh said the police made surprise checks off and on since hotels had been found to be violating the permissible limit for keeping the bar and restaurant open. “We checked five to six hotels last night that were open after 12.30am. We will continue this to ensure that rules are not flouted,” said Singh.

The officer said that while music could not be played after 10.30pm, serving liquor was a strict “no no” after 11.30pm.

The superintendent of police, Bhubaneswar excise circle, Haresh Chandra Nayak, said that the excise licences issued to hotels and clubs would be cancelled if complaints of violations were received. “We will raid such hotels. They will run the risk of their licences getting cancelled,” said Nayak.

The hospitality industry, however, reacted vehemently to cops playing party pooper. “If the cops start behaving like moral police, they are going to kill our business. They must be reasonable in implementing the laws and realise that it would be rude of us to ask our customers to leave immediately as the clock strikes 12 in the night,” said a pub owner, who fears loss of business.

Another hotel owner said that with Bhubaneswar acquiring the trappings of a metro, the authorities ought to be a bit liberal in their attitude. “The district collector has the power to allow parties to continue till 2am on special requests. Only the charges will be more. That would be fair considering that we pay so much to the government in terms of taxes,” he said, adding that each hotel pays at least Rs 50,000 per month as excise duty and licence fee to the government.

The police, however, appeared to be in no mood to relent with a late night shoot-out taking place outside a bar-cum-restaurant on the Cuttack-Puri Road on July 22. The police have since faced a lot of criticism for failing to check late night revelry at hotels and bars.