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Despite ban, dance bars flourish in Mumbai
Shiv Kumar/TNS


is it morality versus livelihood?

Mumbai, January 9
Nearly seven years after the Maharashtra Government banned dance bars across the state, the business continues to flourish, often with the help of corrupt police officials.

According to rough estimates by senior police officials, as many as 200 to 250 dance bars were said to be operating in different parts of the city in the guise of orchestra bars.

"Over the past few years, a number of new orchestra bars have come up in the city and we are keeping an eye on them to see if they hold dances by bar dancers," says Assistant Commissioner of Police Vasant Dhoble.

Earlier this week, Dhoble led a team of policemen on a raid at a bar located near the Sahar International Airport and arrested several women who were allegedly performing there.

"We arrested eight women who have been sent to a shelter," Dhoble said.

According to the officer, owners of dance bars are coming up with unique methods to escape the eye of the police.

"At the bar we raided at Sahar, there was a cavity inside the kitchen where we found a male staffer asleep. Since we were sure of our information, we checked the wall of the cavity and found a small door inside the cavity which led to a small tunnel like enclosure where the women were hidden," Dhoble said.

Police officials said owners of some dance bars have even constructed escape chutes which often led to neighbouring buildings from where the women could escape in case of a raid.

"It is very difficult to detect such escape routes unless we have inside information, said a police official.

The Social Service Branch of the Mumbai police now wants the Mumbai municipality to provide layout plans of every building where an orchestra bar has been given permission to operate.

"The Christmas-New Year week was very busy with a large number of persons coming in and going from here," said a woman residing at the Dahivali slum in the suburb of Dahisar West. The Belur Park orchestra bar situated at the entrance of the slum employs a number of women who often run out whenever there is a police raid.

The manager of the establishment, however, insists that no dancing happens here.

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