The Maharashtra Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed the controversial bill banning dance bars across the state after Deputy Chief Minister Minister R R Patil caused a flutter in the House by saying political leaders and government officials have invested in the bars.
Patil, who also holds the Home portfolio, said, "Although these dance bars were owned by the Shettys, the money of political leaders and some officials of certain departments was invested in these bars."
"I am making this statement although I cannot prove this in a court of law," Patil said during his 40-minute-speech.
Patil also claimed that the bar owners' lobby was engaged in a collection of Rs 20 crore to fight the ban on dance bars.
"Those opposed to the ban have gone to the extent of threatening to shoot and kill me," Patil added.
Patil said he was disheartened when the governor returned the ordinance on the dance bar ban. "I also became doubtful," he added.
Stating that bar girls themselves were competent to undertake their own rehabilitation, Patil said, "People are using bar girls as a shield to protect their own interests."
"However, while enforcing the ban, the government will not adopt a cruel attitude. It will provide employment to these bar girls on the Employment Guarantee Scheme projects and help them start self-help groups, and also provide
loans for setting up their own industry," he said.
The number of bar girls in the 307 official dance bars in Mumbai could not be more than 7,500 and not 75,000 as claimed by some organisations, Patil clarified.
"The life of people living in the same building where the dance bars are located, had become miserable," Patil said adding, "these people shut their houses early and lock themselves up fearing the antics of visitors to the dance
"They could not even complain to the police as the nearest police station would be 'managed' by the bar owners," he said.
Patil also made some unsavoury remarks about police officials. "I had noticed that officials of my department sought transfers in areas where these bars were located," he said, adding, "those who were already there, used many a tricks to stay put there."
"I have decided to be very strict as far as patronage to all such illegal activities is concerned. Henceforth, the concerned policeman, from the constable to the police inspector, will be suspended if such activities are noticed in his area," the deputy chief minister said.