Today's Paper

Party animals retire early these nights

CHENNAI, SEPT. 26. "Chennai is closed," the front-office executive of The Park hotel, declares, a little after midnight. The usually active Leather Bar is locked. Party animals have retired early finding Pasha closed. "There's nowhere you can get a drink in the city," he says. An otherwise vibrant Bike and Barrel, Residency Towers, wears a deserted look. A bright red board announces: "Admission only to those above 21 years - By Govt. Order."

"We have been asked to check identity cards before letting people in to verify age," says the bouncer, as he shuts the place down, sending off grumbling customers around midnight.

"They took the last order at 11.15," says a customer coming out of the place. "At 11.16, they refused a drink. It's all after the accident," he complains.

Things have more than changed in a week since Stephanie, a call centre employee, was hit and run over by a car driven by four youths in the 16-24 age group within seconds of leaving President Hotel. The accident site is only about 200 metres from the hotel. The security guard at the hotel tells as you drive in, "Bar closed, Sir." "They close by 10. It has been like this for the last one week."

But this Saturday, there seemed to be no sign of patrolling on the stretch the State Police headquarters is located.

Drunken driving

However, the city police chief says that there is no letdown in the drive against drunken driving. "I personally booked two cases of drunken driving in front of Park Sheraton last night," R.Nataraj, the Commissioner told The Hindu .

"There were 560 beats throughout the city, in spite of the security arrangements we had to make for the processions today. Ninetyone cases of drunken driving were booked last night," he reveals.

Mr. Nataraj strikes a tough note when he says: "In another month, there will be a total change."

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