BY FLYNN REMEDIOS | MIRA-BHYANDAR: With the Mira-Bhayandar Municipal elections about 20 days away, political parties and candidates are scurrying around for cash to fund their election campaigns.
According to one estimate, the BJP party led by Narendra Mehta in the twin cities of Mira-Bhayandar is likely to totally spend over Rs 8 crore (unofficially) on the MBMC elections. The Shiv Sena comes second and their total spend is estimated to be around Rs 5-6 crore.
Congress and others would probably end up spending Rs 2-4 crore each plus the independents who would spend much lesser amounts.
Which means, about Rs 20 crore will be circulated in the area during the coming MBMC polls. This is in addition to the expenses by the MBMC itself which has been reportedly estimated to be Rs 4 crore according to media reports. Where will all this money come from?
According to Firoz Ahmed Khan, spokesperson for the Mira-Bhayandar Citizens Action Forum, illegal dance bars are flourishing in Mira-Bhayandar and there are over 20 illegal ‘ladies dance bars’ that double up as pick up points for call girls and drug peddlers in the Mira-Bhayandar belt.
These illegal bars are all patronized and “protected” or “owned” by local politicians from the Mira-Bhayandar belt who have their black money invested and parked there. And during election time, it is these bars that will fund most of the election expenses.
Sources say that about Rs 3-5 crore will be “generated” or “funded” by these illegal bars in Mira-Bhayandar.
The biggest beneficiaries of the funds from the bars will be the “in-power” BJP politicians and according to unconfirmed sources each illegal bar has been told to cough up Rs 7-10 lakh for election expenses, by a well-known (and much-feared) politician from Mira-Bhayandar.
How do the illegal bars in Mira-Bhayandar function?
When the new regulations governing dance bars, ladies bars and orchestra bars came into place months ago, not much changed in the Mira Bhayandar region for those operating illegal and underground or secret ‘ladies dance bars’, which also double up as pick up points for the flesh trade and points of sale for drug peddlers.
Earlier, before the dance bars were banned in Maharashtra, it all happened officially, the bars used to operate under their own name and brand and were known for the particular services and facilities they offered. Now they all do it, albeit secretly and underground without any name or brand.
They are secret only as far as the police and authorities go, but are otherwise well-known among clientele from all over Mumbai, Ahmadabad, Surat and even Hyderabad down South, with patrons booking the “girls” of their choice for private dance parties and even sex parties and orgies in advance.
With the ban on dance bars and ladies bars, many of them in the Borivli-Dahisar-Mira-Bhyandar belt were forced to close shop, at least officially and the ‘dance girls’ were rendered jobless – but those actively involved in the flesh trade shifted their business and pick up points to different locations like pubs, coffee shops and restaurants.
With the new rules in place now, many bars have reopened again and are all carrying on a brisk business, though illegally with the tacit connivance of the police. Police officials regularly, if not daily visit the bars for inspection, but as soon as the officer or police vehicle is spotted, the doorman presses a concealed switch which triggers an alarm and flashing lights of a particular colour in the inner dance floor area.
The dancers quickly hide in a secret room or cavities within a few seconds and only the permitted number of waitresses stay on the specially prepared and permitted stage area. The police official surveys the place and stays in the inner area for not more than two minutes and is gone as quickly as he came in. The flashing lights change colour and it is back to business for the dancers and waitresses as well as their clients.
As per the new rules and regulations, the ‘women’ are expected to be decently dressed and wear an ID card. They are not allowed to be on the dance floor and not more than 3-4 girls can be on the stage at any given time.
However, according to MBCAF (Mira-Bhyandar Citizens Action Forum) activist Manish Singh, all these rules are flouted and dance bars and ladies bars have started doing brisk business and also openly offering ‘girls-on-hire’ for private dance and even sex.
An activist for the MBCAF speaking to IndiaScribes.com said that several bars in Kashimira, Mira-Bhyandar and the western suburbs of Mumbai have started functioning with impunity, by bribing and hoodwinking police officials.
“In the Bhyandar area bars like Ranjan, Vasant, Rupesh, Mehndi, Mid-light, Tasha, Mayuri, Pyasa, Neel Palace, White House are operating illegally, while in Kashimira bars like Lovebird Orchestra bar, Sagar, Samudra, Millenium, Redhorse, Phoenix, Night Lovers, etc., double up as pick up points.
According to Megha Chaudhary, President of the Mira-Bhyandar Citizens Action Forum many bars in Mumbai western suburbs as well as Mira-Bhyandar are run with the tacit support of the local BJP leaders including the corporator and the MLA in connivance with senior police officials.
“According to a survey and report prepared by Megha Chaudhary of the MBCAF, illegal activities are blatantly going on at: Jashn at Chincholi Bunder Malad West, Jharna at Evershine Nagar Malad West, Mumbai Planet at Mith Chowki Malad West, Tequila at Goregaon West Bhagat Singh Nagar, Princess at Bhagat Singh Nagar Goregaon West, Lakshadweep at Juhu, Lotus at Nagardas Road Andheri East, Chawak at Borivli West, Metro near Infinity Mall Lokhandwala Andheri West, Night Lover at Andheri East, Anna Palace at Bhyandar East, Phoenix at Mira Road, Ranjan near Bhyandar Station, Aishwarya near Sheetal Nagar Mira Road, S S Bar near Sheetal Nagar Mira Road and Redhorse on the Mira Bhyandar Highway are all running illegal, backdoor, underground operations like illegal dance bars, ladies bars flouting all rules and also double up as pick-up points both for pimps, call girls and drug peddlers.”
Singh explains that only four girls are permitted with their IDs on the makeshift stage, and no girl is permitted on the dance floor. However, in all the bars mentioned above, there are at least 8 to 16 or 20 girls on the dance floor and none of them have ID cards.
Chaudhary alleges that a huge prostitution and drugs trade rackets are going on inside some dance or orchestra bars and the local police are either unaware of it or prefer to turn a blind eye towards the illegal activity because they are ‘taken good care of’.
“Each dance or ladies bar pays about Rs one to Rs three lakh in bribes each month to various police officials and as long as there is no major trouble in the area, the police are more than happy to turn a blind eye to what goes on inside. “Bar girls are not only operating illegally inside the bars, but also soliciting and offering sex, and have also become conduits or go-betweens for drug peddlers and clients who frequent the bars prefer to deal with the bar girls when it comes to purchasing drugs rather than deal with a drug peddler,” alleges Chaudhary of the MBCAF.
Since the last few years, in the Mira Bhyandar belt as with other parts of Mumbai, bar owners switched to daytime for carrying out their ‘notorious’ activities. ‘Happy hours’, as they are termed, bars under the garb of ‘live orchestra shows’ start their operations from around lunch time in the afternoon and wind up before 9:30 p.m. Disguised as a live band, the bars double up as brothels and all day long the dancing acts as a cover for flesh trade and prostitution. The clientele largely comprises of wealthy young men from Gujarat, who are flock to these day time watering holes, say sources, as reported by the Afternoon DC.
Bar owners claim there is no police restriction or strict scrutiny during the day. Along with a troupe of live orchestra band with two to four female singers, 25 to 30 young call girls are employed as bar maids. After a blanket ban on dance bars across the state, dozens of dingy ‘orchestra bars’ have sprang up in the Mira-Bhayandar area. The police also seem to ignore the line of cars, mostly with Gujarat registration, parked outside the dance bars.
According to an earlier report in the ADC, more than 50 orchestra bars (most of them having built-in guest houses) cropped up in the Mira-Bhayandar region since the ban was originally imposed 12 years ago. Performing live on the existing dance stages, the orchestra troupes comprised 10 to 12 members, including male and female singers, musicians and sound support technicians. While several bar girls and even call girls transformed or disguised themselves into singers, the orchestra troupes also opened a window of opportunity for aspiring and genuine playback singers and veteran musicians who were at some point of time attached to the film and television industry, but were running short of good work at other venues.
Police have conducted several raids over the years – in response to a complaint about obscene acts under the garb of live orchestra performances, police personnel swooped down at three live orchestra bars in Kashimira including – Big Boss, Sea Magic, Saaki and Bindiya (Viceroy) Bar at Mira Road. A total of 40 bar staffers including operators and managers were arrested, 16 bar girls were rescued by the police team from the four bars.
Acting on a tip-off about obscene dance shows under the garb of live orchestra performances, police personnel from the Kashimira police station sent a decoy and swooped down at Maansi-Live Orchestra bar on the highway in Kashimira. Twelve people including the operator, manager, cashier, waiters and band crew were arrested and booked under the relevant sections of the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and the Protection of Dignity of Women Act, 2016. The place was supposedly running an orchestra bar but would in fact hold dance performances by semi-clad female singers, the police had said.
In May last year, police personnel from the Mira Road division of the Thane (rural) police led by Deputy SP Suhas Bawche conducted raids at four ladies bars in the twin city and booked the offenders under the new law recently passed by the state for dance bars. In spite of this, all the four ladies bars were back in action – illegally of course within 2 months after the raid.
Another disturbing social trend is the fact that more and more bar girls are getting addicted to drugs. According to a Mid-day report, Rita Singh, a bar dancer from Grant Road, says several of her colleagues in Andheri, Borivli, Dahisar and Mira Road are addicted to the drug. “Many women have now started consuming it before hitting the dance floor.” The reason being: consumption of drugs like meow meow, makes the bars girls stay awake and also dance more vigorously without getting tired.
According to a Mid-day report, the Mumbai anti-narcotics cell (ANC) suspects that at least 60 per cent of the women working in dance bars are getting high on the drug in the hope of losing extra flab quickly and boosting their stamina to perform on the dance floor for long hours. This myth has been propagated by drug peddlers, say the city police.
MBCAF President Megha Chaudhary says 80 per cent of bar girls in Mumbai and Mira-Bhyandar-Thane use drugs to alter their moods and prep themselves for the kind of lifestyle they lead.
Moni Rajbhar from a Dahisar dance bar says peddlers give the drug for free initially. She alleges that that in some bars, the management readily pays for the drug so that the women can perform for long hours. “The bar dancers function as point persons for dozens of others and help peddlers widen their customer base and clientele. In return, peddlers give free daily supplies to ‘co-ordinators’,” reports Mid-day.
Another ANC official says since bar dancers have no knowledge of ‘drug purity’, peddlers often get away by adulterating their supply. Adulterated drugs can prove even more harmful.
These illegal ladies dance bars on the Western line from Andheri (East and West) to Bhyandar have become not just pick up points for the flesh trade, but also serve as counters for drug peddlers who use the bars girls as saleswomen to peddle the drugs to their clientele. Most middle-aged men who consist of about 60 per cent of their clientele have some sexual problem or the other. The bar girls acting as saleswomen for the drug peddlers convince the customer that he can perform better after consuming drugs. The bar girls procure drugs from the peddlers and sell it to the customers often at a premium.
As reported by IndiaScribes.com earlier and has now been confirmed by the police, an Andheri-based starlet Kritika Choudhary was murdered recently because of a drug deal gone wrong. She was a drug consumer herself and had run up debts with some peddlers. Though as yet unconfirmed, it is rumored that Kritika Choudhary used to moon light occasionally in Mumbai’s elite dance bars to make an extra buck.
Media reports have alleged that model-actor Kritika Chaudhary (27) was allegedly killed for not paying Rs 6,000 for the drugs (probably methamphetamine or Meow-Meow) which she bought last year in July from one of the two accused arrested by the police. The Amboli police arrested the duo–Shakeel Khan (33) and his accomplice Basu Das (40)–after they were identified on Friday by a witness. The accused stole jewellery and gold worth Rs 1.5 lakh from the residence of the deceased. It seems that there is more to what meets the eye in this case, as the drug peddlers would not risk murdering a woman in her own flat for a mere Rs 6000. The police are still investigating the case.
Hundreds of aspiring and struggling models and actresses from smaller towns come to Mumbai to get a break in Bollywood. With no family financial backing, no professional educational qualifications, they survive for a few months and slowly begin to realize the hard facts of life in Mumbai. Most of them live as paying guests (PGs) at Four Bungalows, Mahada, Andheri West, as well as the Kandivili-Charkop and Mira Road areas.
Eventually about 30 per cent of them begin to work in these ladies dance and orchestra bars and also double up as part-time call girls or sex workers to make a fast buck.
In all, over 40,000 to 60,000 girls between the age of 16 to 30 (or 35 in some cases) are employed by these bars in Mumbai, Mira-Bhyandar, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Vashi, Kalyan, Dombivli, Ulhasnagar, etc., claims Megha Choudhary of the Mira-Bhyandar Citizens Action Forum, adding that all over Maharashtra at least 1,20,000 girls are part of the dance bars-flesh trade racket.
Even as orchestra bands in the bars, grapple to churn out a decent living on a 50:50 ratio (collections through showered money is equally shared between the bar owner and the orchestra troupe), it is an open secret that notorious bar owners gradually began using the orchestras as a front to conceal their prostitution activities. Even the girls who work on a 60:40 or 70:30 ratio with the bar owners, end up spending more money than they can save.
Some bar owners have created two separate sections to accommodate both the orchestra stage and the dance floor and run dance and orchestra bars within the same unit.
After the ban was imposed, several orchestra bars and illegal lodges cropped up not only in residential areas but on both sides of the service road on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad National Highway. The rampant flesh trade menace is evident from the fact that despite a ban on dance bars, the Thane (rural) police have carried out several raids, rescued girls and registered cases under the stringent Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA) against bar owners and hotel staff who acted as pimps, reports ADC.
Before the ban, all dance bars doubled up as pick-up-joints and operated till the wee hours of the morning. After the ban, people who owned the bar and hotel premises had to slash the monthly rentals by over fifty percent which actually came as blessing in disguise for actual bar operators, who under the guise of live orchestras continued the nefarious activities with added vigour and profit. And with dingy guest houses in their own backyard, things became much easier for them, says the ADC report.