Mumbai – Indradev Pandey
Less than 24 hours after home minister Anil Deshmukh warned stringent action against officials if hookah parlours were found operating in their respective jurisdictions, DCP (Zone I) Amit Kale attached to the Mira Bhayandar-Vasai Virar (MBVV) police commissionerate raided an establishment which was found to be flouting all norms and regulations
The home minister gave the warning while replying to a query raised by Sena legislator Ravindra Phatak during the question hour in the upper house on Tuesday.
Acting on a tip-off, DCP Amit Kale and his team swooped down on Sheesha Lounge, a hookah parlour operating in the Sheetal Nagar area of Mira Road. The raiding team seized a large number of hookah pipes, pots and other incriminating material worth more than Rs 20, 000. 18 people including the owner, manager, waiters, and 11 soliciting customers were rounded up and booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution Act) – (COPTA), 2003.
The accused were also charged under the provisions of the Epidemics Act for violating the in-force Covid-19 containing norms. While dozens of parlours have mushroomed in the twin-city, several bars and eateries, especially on the highway in Kashimira and coastal areas of Uttan-Gorai belt brazenly offer hookah services under the garb of serving herbal tobacco-free hookah by obtaining licenses under the shops and establishment act.
These dens were not only destroying the moral fabric of the younger generation, but were playing with fire as most of them were said to be operating sans any fire safety regulations.