Hookah business takes a hit, owners look for alternatives

Of the 196 hookah parlours in the city, only 40 or 50 ran with valid licences and the rest did not have permissions.
Hookah business takes a hit, owners look for alternatives

HYDERABAD: The crackdown on hookah parlours, once a booming business in the city, in the aftermath of the busting of drug racket has forced several owners to look for alternative avenues in the face of losses. Many entrepreneurs, who are running coffee shops with gaming and restaurant facilities, see a much-reduced footfall while several others have closed down their establishments waiting for further intimation on their business from the police. They, however, maintain that such a ban is uncalled for. Even those who run their restaurants under all legal guidelines are being targeted because of those who aren’t complying with the rules and are carrying out illegal activities.

In one such case, the owner of an ice cream-cum-hookah parlour at Mehdipatnam is turning his place into a full-fledged restaurant. “After gaining eight years of experience in running this business, I have to start from scratch in this new venture. I am not sure if I can compete against established restaurants in the area. It is a huge gamble,” said Syed Mujahed.

Of the 196 hookah parlours in the city, only 40 or 50 ran with valid licences and the rest did not have permissions. But why punish all? he wondered. Xtacy, a gaming lounge at Amberpet, is having a low footfall because of the hookah ban. “Nearly half of our customers have stopped coming and we are running on minimal profits,” said the operator. 

“All my investment is in jeopardy. Police have been high-handed in dealing with us. Why do they not understand that we pay taxes and operate legally?” asked Iliyaz, owner of Urban Grill, a restaurant forced to close down now because of the ban. Vinod, who started a hookah parlour at Himayatnagar a year ago in partnership with a friend with an eye on high returns, said that his restaurant was not being allowed to operate even for dining purpose. “Police are not allowing us to run at least restaurant service. If this continues, suicide would be the option left for us,” he said.

Police, however, said that parlours can run their restaurant business as usual. “We understand that restaurants would run if hookah is served but we do not want smokers’ influence on others. Restaurant services can be offered as usual,” said A Venkateshwar Rao, deputy commissioner of police (west zone).

Cops raid pub for conducting ‘mujra’, 12 held
Hyderabad:
City police busted a mujra party at Hydrogen, a lounge bar, in Jubilee Hills and arrested 12 persons including the bar manager and rescued six women.  According to police, on a tip off, Task Force police conducted raids on the lounge bar at around 7pm on Wednesday and found that women and men reportedly were indulging in obscene dance.  Police said that they have inputs that the lounge bar management lured customers by collecting huge amounts and organising a private party. The management also brought many women to take part in the Mujra party, said police.  In the wake of crackdown on drug abuse and supply, police have intensified the raids on pubs, bars and other lounges based on specific  information. At the time of raids, many customers including women were found in 
intoxicated condition and indulged in obscene activity, police said.  The arrested persons were handed over to Jubilee Hills police for further investigation. 

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