Reopening of dance bars: State made manoeuvres in the dark, claims Opposition

Mumbai: The opposing Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) slammed the state government after the Supreme Court verdict on Thursday, which permitted the reopening of dance bars. The Opposition alleged that it was a ‘setting and funding’ with dance bar owners and operators, whereby the state had left loopholes in the rules for obtaining permission to set up dance bars.

Dance bars were banned in the state after August 15, 2005. In 2016, the state passed the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (Working therein) Rules, 2016, imposing stringent conditions for the operation of dance bars.

Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant wanted to know “how much funds the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had collected for a mild defence in courts”. The NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik alleged that a deal with huge financial implications had been finalised at the official residence of the chief minister two years ago to soft-pedal the issue.

The leader of the opposition, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, NCP leader Jitendra Awhad and the president of the NCP’s women’s wing, Chitra Wagh, charged the BJP-Sena with “complete failure” in defending the crucial issue in the apex court.
The leaders declared that come what may, they would not allow the reopening of dance bars in the state, as these exploited women, corrupted the youth and resulted in all manner of social evils.

The chairperson of the Maharashtra State Women’s Commission Vijaya Rahatkar and Shiv Sena leader Dr Neelam Gorhe guardedly said, “the SC had upheld most of the stringent rules imposed by the state government a few years ago”. Rahatkar said, “There is no blanket permission granted, as is being conveyed in the media.”

Hailing the apex court ruling, the Bharatiya Bar Girls’ Union (BBGU) president Varsha Kale said dancers had been fighting for nearly 15 years and finally, they could resume work. There were an estimated five-six lakh dancers working in 2,800 legal and other unauthorised dance bars mushrooming across Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Pune, adjacent to state highways, supporting lakhs of support staffers, allied businesses and families.

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