BANGALORE: In a mysterious twist for two hookah parlours in Koramangala, someone had apparently tipped them off about a possible BBMP’s raid. The BBMP was in possession of wholesome proof that children from the a nearby school had been frequenting this hookah parlour, as it served the much needed tobacco doze, albeit illegally.
However, 30 minutes before the raid, Koramangala Police got to the spot. Having planned a raid on two hookah joints in Koramangala, informing his health officers just 12 hours before the raid, Deputy Mayor S Harish is now scratching his head thinking, how the news of his ‘secret raid’ was leaked out. The BBMP decided to raid Cafes Mocha and Soul in Koramangala late on Monday evening and the health officials reached the spot at 1.50 pm on Tuesday.
To their shock, the cafe was under strict police presence and completely empty. “After probing 2-3 servers who were present there, we seized 25 hookah equipment. They did not have any documentation or licenses. They had been illegally supplying hookah to youngsters and school children,” said S Harish, Deputy Mayor.
Accompanied by a health officer, Harish realized that since cops from Koramangala police station were already present there and had allegedly cleared the place, 30 minutes before they got there, there was someone who tipped them off.
“There is a black sheep in every department and we will find out who has leaked out the information this time,” he fumed.
Meanwhile, the cops had a completely different story to narrate. “This is the second case we have booked against Cafe Mocha. Every time, either during our rounds or when we get information that hookah is being served here, we raid the place and take them into custody. We were not aware of any raid by the BBMP,” said Sudhir, Inspector, Koramangala Police Station.
He further added that as per the Supreme Court ruling, serving tobacco or any tobacco product within 100 meters range of an educational institution was illegal, this place had been serving hookah, though it was merely within 25-50 metres range of the Bethany High School.
“Sadly, when we register a criminal case and FIR against such places and present them in court, they write a confession letter and escape by paying merely Rs 500 in court. In the last three months, we have filed almost six cases against cafes and parlours in Koramangala serving hookah illegally,” said Sudhir, Inspector.
The owner and manager of Cafe Mocha remained unavailable for comments throughout the day. The BBMP also raided another cafe in Koramangala, Cafe Soul and seized the hookah equipment from there too. “We had stopped selling hookah soon after the ban. The equipment had merely been lying around,” argued Manu Mehtani, owner, Cafe Soul.
Meanwhile, the BBMP it has not issued any licences and does not plan to do so in the near future. “We are waging a war against hookah and we will fight it till the end,” said Deputy Mayor S Harish.