KOLKATA: Under fire for the deteriorating law and order situation in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has sparked off another controversy, saying ‘shut down nightclubs by midnight’.
The decision comes on the heels of the Park Street rape incident. While Mamata had initially called the rape case ‘fabricated’, this unprecedented move has been touted as moral policing more than ensuring safety of women.
“Kolkata has always been safe and well-known for its lively nightlife. But this new rule is draconian meant more as moral policing, than improving law and order,” said Karina Roberts, who is currently working in an NGO in Mumbai.
“We are not happy about this timing. We are ready to comply with all the government rules like proper checking of guests, proper CCTV footage, maintaining a guest list etc. We are a five-star property with 186 rooms, so how do we cater to our in-house guests? If this deadline continues, we see a lot of places shutting business in the city,” said corporate manager, marketing and events, Hotel Hindustan International, Amit Hathiramani. “Closing the nightclubs would suggest that sexual assault only takes place at night and in clubs, which is utter nonsense. She (Mamata Banerjee) may as well impose a permanent bandh in the city at this rate. I regret voting for her now,” said Pranaadhika Sinha Devburman, who runs an NGO to combat child sexual abuse.
Industry sources said that a city nightclub makes about `18-20 lakh per night. But with this diktat coming into effect in March, 70 per cent of the business will be affected. This new law will prevent late closing of nightclubs as well as banquet halls and is threatening the hospitality sector as a whole.
“The Excise Department gives the Late Closure Licence (LCL) on a monthly basis. We have not been given one for March and we hope that this is only a temporary step,” said a hotel source. “It is truly disappointing that due to a single unfortunate incident, which we strongly condemn, the late closing license has not been granted. This is definitely going to impact the hospitality sector, music and entertainment, tourism, taxes and investments,” added the source.
Five-star deluxe hotels must be distinguished from the rest in terms of timings, as they cater to the needs of both domestic and international travellers and airline crews, who operate in different time zones,” said The Park, Kolkata in a statement.