Police officer fails to beat clubs with his stick


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The Independent Online

Mumbai’s party people can celebrate again – the hockey stick has gone.

This week it was announced that a senior police officer who had been overseeing a crackdown on the city’s unlicensed and illegal bars and clubs – sometimes while personally brandishing a hockey stick – has been transferred amid fears the operation was damaging Mumbai’s reputation.

The Press Trust of India said assistant commissioner of police Vasant Dhoble, had been transferred out of the social service branch of the force and moved to a low profile posting. The move followed concerns that the raids, which had garnered many headlines, were doing nothing to help Mumbai’s reputation as a tourist destination.

The chief minister of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan, had recently told a tourism event that Mumbai would get its nightlife back and the “unjust” raids would stop.

Mr Dhoble and his boss Arup Patnaik, had been using archaic licensing laws to crack down on bars, clubs and restaurants as well as prostitution rings. While many in the city supported their efforts to enforce the law, a vocal section that compromised Mumbai’s party crowd claimed the officers were going too far and were practicing “moral policing”.

Mr Patnaik had said:  “Elite sections thought they were above the law and that nobody should ask for their papers – that was the attitude.”

Mr Patnaik was moved from his post as the city’s most senior police officer last month after he was accused of failing to deal with protests by Muslims that left two people dead.

Last night, members of Mumbai’s party crowd welcomed the move. Viren Shah, a socialite who owns a small department store located directly opposite police headquarters and who had campaigned against the crackdown, said: “It’s good news for the people who want to party.”