Chairs and tables on the verandahs of cafes have been overturned and customers have been asked to sit inside to prevent sleaze.
Chairs and tables on the verandahs of Barista, Cafe Coffee Day and Fanoos have been overturned and customers have been asked to sit inside to prevent sleaze. This happened after Additional Commissioner of Police (North) Bipin Bihari on Wednesday afternoon apparently pulled up DN Jadhav, Senior Inspector of Police, Oshiwara, for not looking into the allegations that sex workers were doing business at some coffee shops at the Oshiwara crossing.
“We had complaints that these places were being used by pimps to solicit clients. It was also alleged that some of the coffee shop guys were hand-in-glove with such “agents”.
Complainants said that when customers finish their tea or coffee they were asked to leave, but pimps and sex workers were allowed to sit there for long hours. “So I asked the local police to make a survey of such places and tighten things up,” said Bihari.
“Our job is to serve tea, coffee and milk shakes. It’s not written on a girl’s forehead whether she’s a prostitute. We are a well-respected and popular organisation with a chain of outlets all over. Would you believe we would support such illegal activities?” said Chandra Sena, the day manager at Cafe Coffee Day.
Similarly, the man at the Barista counter said the police action had inconvenienced a lot of patrons. “Nobody prevents the police from making periodical checks. But it seems they think whoever comes here is of dubious character,” he said.
Perhaps the worst hit is Fanoos, popular for its hookahs, milk-shakes and Lebanese food. “Middle-class families from places like Agripada and Nagpada also come here to have a taste of our dal gosht and biryani. If such actions continue, I’ll be finished,” said its owner Zaffar Noor Mohammed. “You cannot say who’s what among the customers. Supposing I go and ask a girl if she’s a prostitute and she turns out to be from a reputed family, what will happen to me? We are ready to co-operate with the police but this is not the way they should treat us,” he said.
Jami Jaffri, a local Congressman and the guy who has been trying to weed out prostitution in the area said, “We want these coffee shops to have genuine customers and not become an adda for call girls. But recent police action seems too stringent. Their actions should be balanced. Many decent people come to these joints. Strugglers discuss their plans over a cup of coffee.”
Meanwhile, Bihari took note of customers’ grievances when he told DNA on Sunday, “We just want the bad people to keep off such places. I’m planning to relax the recent curbs looking for the larger interest of genuine customers. But the managers of such places should keep the police informed if they find suspicious-looking people hanging around their place.”