Bangalore, Aug. 8: Cut the music, guys. The cops are coming.
The city of pubs has just been handed its Cinderella moment — two hours early — after police pulled out an eight-year-old Supreme Court order that said all outdoor music must be switched off at 10pm.
Since August 1, hundreds of pubs in this tech city have been falling silent at 10, though the 2005 court order applies to music played outdoors.
“We respect the system. But this ruling had never been implemented so far,” the owner of a prominent pub told The Telegraph.
Apparently, a complaint by an influential family in the central business district over loud music played by an upmarket pub in the neighbourhood had sent the cops scurrying down with the court order.
It’s been like that since. As the clock strikes 10, the sound of silence descends. Sometimes, it’s even earlier.
While the police have been specifically targeting pubs in the central areas since Thursday, those in upscale residential zones like Indira Nagar have also seen the cops showing up before 10pm.
“We don’t play any music outdoors,” said the owner of a pub in the area. “But we too are being forced to switch off the music at 10pm. It’s plain harassment.”
Bangalore police commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar said the cops were merely enforcing the court order. “We are only implementing a Supreme Court ruling that disallows music after 10pm,” he said.
He didn’t explain why the order had suddenly been pulled out after eight years.
While the closure deadline for pubs stays at 11.30, the police drive has hit nightlife in the Karnataka capital, known for its swanky watering holes that gave Bangalore’s youths and music lovers an alternative to cheap bars.
Not that all pubs keep the music confined indoors. “The last time I visited my favourite pub, the music was being played outdoors. The cops came and everything stopped,” said Arjun Ramachandran, a young Bangalorean who has been pubbing for more than a decade.
“We were then herded out as if we were petty criminals.” Clearly, that is what had galled him the most. “They didn’t even listen to us when we said it was well before the 11.30pm deadline.”
Rashmi G., a private banker, recalled a similar experience. “We were celebrating a friend’s birthday last Saturday even after the music had been switched off. When we came out of the pub around 11.30, there were cops waiting as if for some catch,” said the young Bangalorean on Tuesday.
For the hip and trendy, weekend nights are still young at 11.30.
Not only pubs, fine-dine restaurants have been hit too. “We have bands playing on weekends and certain days of the week and our guests are mostly the working crowd that hits pubs after 8pm. Now, it has become difficult for us to get a band to start at least by 8.30 and beat the deadline,” said the manager of a joint in Indira Nagar.
Bands usually play for at least three to four hours and evenings are often themed on blues or rock, or specific artistes like Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley.
Some pub owners have made several attempts to meet the chief minister or the home minister. They are also trying to get a copy of the court order.
The Congress government has so far remained silent on the police drive.