Within hours of The Hindu reporting the suo motu notice served by GHMC on Lamakaan to shut it down, the civic body backed off and an official said the problem has been resolved. This, after an uproar by civil society, online petition on change.org to keep the place open and the local MP Asaduddin Owaisi drawing the attention of IT Minister K.T. Rama Rao to the issue. The latter responded saying “Will take it up with GHMC MP Saab.”
By the time the Deputy Commissioner of circle-10 P. Mahender, resolved the issue with the owner of the place, nearly 3,000 people signed up to save the open cultural space. Under the subject ‘Running of Cultural Centre at Road No.5 Banjara Hills - Creating nuisance to the surrounding residents and general public’, the notice was served on Lamakaan on December 23. But surprisingly, it did not specify or mention as to what exactly was the cause of nuisance, but instead talked only about the issue of running the place without a licence. “We are engaged in talks with GHMC officials to resolve the matter,” said Ashhar Farhan, who is one of the founders of Lamakaan.
When contacted, Mr. Mahender said that he had talked to Mr. Farhan and that the matter was resolved. Asked if the notice will be taken back, he replied, “We cannot take back the notice, but the only issue was about parking, which they said would be taken care of.” According to sources at Lamakaan, only an oral assurance has been given and they are awaiting a written commitment.
“If it comes to that the artist/artiste fraternity will take to the streets,” wrote theatre artiste Vinay Varma. Sources also said that the neighbours often complained about things like parking and girls smoking in Lamakaan. In fact, in front of one of the houses, there is razor wire put in place to ensure that people do not park their vehicles, while another signboard says that people should not smoke within five metres of that house. Lamakaan, which is a cultural space for artistes, was started in March 2010 by Ashhar Farhan, his wife Humaia, film producer Elahe Hiptoola and Biju Mathew, a professor in the US.