The Mumbai Police had to make last minute changes in their security plans following the Bombay High Court order in favour of Indian Hotels and Restaurant Association (AHAR) to allow the establishments to remain open till 5 am. Although, Mumbai Police Chief Dr Satyapal Singh didn’t express his views on the court’s order, he said the threat to Mumbai is ‘real’ and appealed Mumbaikars to remain alert.
“We welcome the HC order and have instructed our men that if permission is sought by the license holders to let the establishments run till 5 am, then permission should be given to them. The court while giving the order has also put a condition that if any incident takes place in and around the establishment, then AHAR and license holders too will be held responsible,” said Singh.
When asked about how the police will gauge as to how the establishment is liable if the incident takes place near their joint and what should be the radius from the incident spot that makes them liable for police action, the commissioner said, “It is difficult to tell the radius and we will analyse incidents on case to case basis.”
As per Singh, his decision of permitting establishments to remain open only till 1.30 am was keeping security of city in mind. “Mumbai always faces threat from terrorists and during celebration period, the threat increases. Also after consuming liquor, people tend to indulge in drunken driving and also safety of women is another issue. In 2012 too, AHAR had gone to the HC for the same issue and the court had then given order in our favour and had dismissed their petition,” he said.
“The threat is real to Mumbai city. I would appeal to the citizens to be alert and don’t get into any trouble. Policemen will be on duty till 5 am and would resume again at 8 am. For drunken driving, traffic cops will be seen on roads till 6 am, before resuming back to their normal duty at 8am. Cops in mufti and armed with video cameras will be keeping vigil in crowded places and anti-sabotage checking will be done,” he said.
Singh said that it wasn’t an ego issue for him to permit establishments to remain open only till 1.30 am. “The state government order was very clear. The government’s order had stated that food and liquor can be served by the license holders till 5 am, but the discretionary powers would lie with the unit commanders (commissioners and superintendents of police). The order stated that if the unit commander feels that there can be a law and order situation and no permission should be given, then he can take decision accordingly,” Singh said.
He added that many people were in fact happy with his decision. “People have sent me SMSes telling that they were happy with the 1.30 am deadline decision,” he said.
Asked whether the 1.30 am deadline order was just another moral policing move from the city police, he said, “We never do immoral policing. Our laws and constitution is moral and we work according to it.”