Ladies bars staff and owners up in arms against police

Armed with a High Court order, which provides them legal cover to function, owners and employees of the city’s “ladies bars” have accused the city police of harassment and contempt of court.

The High Court, which upheld the right of women to serve liquor in bars in September 2008 and again in June this year, gave the bar owners time till September 2013 to adhere to guidelines for the business notified by the State government. However, the city police came down hard on the bars and forced them to shut down earlier this month.

“We have time until September to conform to the State government’s guidelines. The police are harassing us before the deadline,” said P.C. Gopalakrishna, president of the industry body, addressing a press conference here on Monday.

He played footage of a major raid conducted by the city police on August 3 which shows men in uniform assaulting the staff of a bar without any provocation. The raid had a ripple effect and all 30 ladies bars have been closed since then out of fear of the police.

“What the police must understand is that we are not running an illegal operation, or a brothel or a dance bar. We have Court’s protection. ,” said B.N. Jeevan, vice-president of the association.

“Prostitution rackets and dance bars are thriving. Yet, the police only pick on us,” he added.

In a release, the association claimed that one bar owner had died of heart attack and another killed himself owing to police pressure.

However, Police Commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar said that the bars had not been asked them to close down. “The bars which were raided were involved in human trafficking.”

One of the woman workers, who preferred anonymity, said :“While nobody says anything when an airhostess or a waitress at a five-star hotel serves liquor, then why brand us as prostitutes?”

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