It’s close to afternoon when we meet Reeta (name changed) but the 22-year old is groggy and just preparing for bed. She got home only by 7 a.m. after a hard night’s work as a chorus singer in an orchestra bar in Mumbai. She had come to the city in July after the Supreme Court lifted the ban on dance bars. But two months on, she is still waiting for bars to reopen.
“I am from Agra. The day the verdict was announced, I spoke to a bar owner and asked for a job. I landed here the very next day. But the bars did not open. Finally I got a job as a back-up singer,” she says.
Like many who come into this profession, Reeta is the sole breadwinner for her family back home. “My father has cancer and I have three siblings to take care of. Going back is not an option,” says Reeta, who is reduced to a lunch of two ‘vada pavs’ and cutting ‘chai’ which she shares with three roommates. Many young women are in the same predicament as her.
The Maharashtra government banned dance bars in 2005. The ban was lifted by the Supreme Court after eight years on July 16, a major embarrassment for Home Minister R.R. Patil, who spearheaded the ban. The State has plans to issue an ordinance to reinstate the ban, but seems to be in no hurry.
Fed up of the wait, bar owners are planning to file a contempt petition in the Supreme Court. Nearly 90 bar owners have applied for a renewal of their dance bar licences to the police. “We applied to the police 10 days after the Supreme Court verdict but our licences have still not been renewed. This goes against the verdict so we are going to court,” said Anil Gaikwad, legal adviser to the dance bar association.
“We have received applications but we are awaiting instructions from the home department, Deputy Police Commissioner Shraddha Raut said.
Despite court order, police have not renewed bar licences