Police raid hookah parlours; ‘rescue’ underage customers

Mumbai: Police have “rescued” five underage customers from hookah parlours in separate raids during which a child labourer was also freed.

The raids were conducted by the Social Service Branch (SSB) of the police last night.

SSB sleuths “rescued” two minor customers, who were being served hookah (an instrument made of water pipe used for smoking flavoured tobacco), and a child labourer from a parlour in suburban Powai last night, police said.

Three minors were rescued from another hookah centre in Byculla, they said.

Fifteen hookah pots, flavoured tobacco, cash and some other items were also seized during the raids.

Both the parlours were booked under relevant sections of the Justice and Juvenile Act, a police official said.

Meanwhile, action has been initiated against 13 people under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) for allegedly smoking at an unauthorised spot in a hookah bar in suburban Andheri, he said.

In yet another raid, the SSB booked a bar in suburban Santacruz under the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women Act, the officer said.

The sleuths found seven bar girls at the spot and they were allowed to leave, he said.

Terming these raids as routine, P Rapale, Senior Inspector with SSB, said police have rescued 10 minor bar girls and nine under-age waiters, including two girls, from various hotels in the metropolis since February.

Besides, 13 minor customers, including two girls, six under-age waiters were rescued from various hookah parlours during this period, he said.

Six minor girls forced into prostitution were also rescued, Rapale added.