Business owners meet MLA over raids and cigarette ban2 min read
Manipal: Following the alleged mishandling of two hotel employees at the hands of some police personnel late night last week, Udupi MLA Raghupathi Bhat met local business owners of Manipal on February 16.
Over the meeting that happened near China Valley, the business owners’ concerns on the nightly raids by the Police in hotel establishments, safety of students and the cigarette ban and the resulting confusion caused were also discussed.
The MLA is said to have contacted the District Commissioner’s Office, Excise Department as well as the Police after listening to their concerns. He urged the Police to not mistreat the employees but also asked the men assembled to pay heed to the rules laid down regarding the working times of their respective businesses.
Shop owners speculated that concerned for the safety of the students, Manipal University pressurised the Police to take preventive measures by ordering the restaurants, pubs and other stores to shut down by 11pm but were puzzled as to why the hostel Perm term was raised to 12 midnight.
Chief Inspector of Manipal Police S. A. Thipannavar denied the Police manhandling or attacking any employees and added, “Unauthorised businesses have been informed to close down before 11.30pm and the Police strictly inform them to do so. There are restaurants, bars and shops without licenses to run after 11pm and they are told not to.” He went onto say that the reinforcement of closing time has nothing to do with University pressure. “The safety of students is our priority; it is our duty to enforce that on a normal basis. Because of the recent suicide of a college girl in Mangalore and the Homestay incident, we have to be more careful.”
Due to the recent reinforcement of the ban local businesses have been suffering said a businessman who wishes to remain anonymous. He said, “For a lot of small stall owners, their main source (money) is from the sale of cigarettes. The locals here can’t buy because of the ban. Maybe they want the students to quit smoking, but they can go to Udupi to buy cigarettes too.”
On the possibility of an ambush similar to the Homestay incident he said, “Whatever happens in Mangalore has been happening in Manipal even before. Even if they shut bars or ban parties, instead of renting Hotels, students have house parties. Everybody knows this.”
The D.C however clarified to the MLA that they were only following the rules laid by the COTPA (Cigarette and other Tobacco Products Act), which bans the sale of cigarettes within 100 yards of an educational institution. Given the large area owned by MU, a large number of establishments that sell cigarettes around the campus fall under this bracket.
Sub-edited by Bhavani Seetharaman