Opposition targets Maharashtra government over Pune pub drugs case

“Due to the government’s inaction, Pune, which was known as ‘Oxford of the East’ has now become known as ‘home of drugs and pubs’... Crime rate in Pune has reached a peak,” said Jayant Patil, the NCP(SP) State president

Published - June 24, 2024 08:18 pm IST - Mumbai

A viral video shows two youngsters snorting a powdered substance in the bathroom of a pub on Fergusson College Road. Image used for representative purpose only.

A viral video shows two youngsters snorting a powdered substance in the bathroom of a pub on Fergusson College Road. Image used for representative purpose only. | Photo Credit: Jignesh Mistry

A video purportedly showing two youths snorting a powdered substance in a Pune bar has given ammunition to the Opposition with the Nationalist Congress Party (SP) terming the city a “home of drugs and pubs”.

The viral video shows two youngsters consuming the substance in the bathroom of a pub on Fergusson College Road. This comes after the outrage over the luxury car accident in which a minor ran over two software engineers.

“Crime rate is on the rise in Pune. Due to the government’s inaction, Pune, which was known as ‘Oxford of the East’ has now become known as ‘home of drugs and pubs’... Crime rate in Pune has reached a peak in the last few years... the police are not getting leads from their informers, but from the social media... The incompetence of the present government is responsible for this. The cultural identity of the city is getting wiped out and becoming infamous due to the current BJP-Shinde dispensation,” NCP (SP) State president Jayant Patil posted on X, while also referring to the Lalit Patil case.

Mr. Lalit, an alleged drug racketeer, was arrested by the Pimpri Chinchwad Police in October 2020 in connection with a mephedrone drug haul case. He was lodged in the Yerawada Central Prison and was shifted to the Sassoon General Hospital in June 2023 for treatment of tuberculosis, hernia and other ailments. He escaped from the hospital’s prisoner ward on October 2, 2023.

Congress MLA Ravindra Dhangekar and Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sushma Andhare demanded a thorough investigation into the Pune video.

The State’s Higher and Technical Education Minister Chandrakant Patil of the Bharatiya Janata Party indirectly took a swipe at Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. “No such alarming incidents occurred when I was the Guardian Minister (of Pune),” said Mr. Chandrakant who was replaced by Mr. Pawar as the district’s Guardian Minister last October.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Pune MP Murlidhar Mohol promised strict action to make the city “drugs free”. The police commissioner has been asked to form a dedicated team to launch an anti-narcotics campaign across Pune, sources said.

So far, the Pune Police have arrested eight people, including the owner and employees of the bar, and suspended four police officers. The bar was operating till 5 a.m., way beyond the closing time of 1.30 a.m. with 40 to 50 youngsters partying inside. The suspended police officers are an inspector, an assistant inspector and two beat marshals from the Shivaji Nagar police station.

“The action taken by the administration is inadequate. Drug rackets can’t be finished by initiating action against one or two officials. The administration is defaming the city,” former Deputy Chief Minister Anil Deshmukh said.

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