Published On : Wed, Oct 10th, 2018

Raids on 9 Lounge and Spades Restro hookah parlours in Gokulpeth

Nagpur: Following state-wide ban on hookah parlours, the sleuths of Crime Branch on Wednesday raided two restaurants in posh Gokulpeth locality and arrested nine persons including two owners for running the outlets. The raid and arrests were made under the amended Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA). Cops have also seized a number of hookah pots, flavours and other stuff collectively worth over Rs 70,000.

The Crime Branch, acting on a tipoff, first raided a hookah parlour named Spades Restro and Lounge situated at Laxmi Krupa Apartment, near Gokulpeth Market. The raiding cops found the owner of restaurant Abhinav Ashok Sontakke (32), resident of Ekta Nagar, Borgaon Gittikhadan, and Manager, Waiter entertaining customers with hookah despite ban. The owner Sontakke and the unidentified Manager and waiter were arrested. Cops seized hookah pots, flavoured tobacco and other stuff worth Rs 30,800 from Spades Restro and Lounge.

Similarly, the Crime Branch sleuths raided Spot 9 now named 9 Lounge situated at same Laxmi Krupa Apartment, near Gokulpeth Market and busted a hookah parlour being run from the place. Cops have arrested the owner Sunny Shikharchand Jain (30), resident of Itwari and five other persons who are not identified. Hookah pots and other material worth Rs 33,550 have been seized.

It is pertinent to recall that the Bill banning hookah parlours in the State was passed by both Houses of the Legislature in April this year in the aftermath of the fire at Kamala Mills Compound last year. It received the President’s assent last week and a state-wide ban was imposed on October 4. The amended Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA) imposes a fine of Rs 1 lakh and prescribes imprisonment of up to three years for violations.

The State witnessed mushrooming growth of hookah parlours since the past few years. Even though hookah is age-old tradition in several parts of the country, the addiction was given new heights in this new era. Tobacco, ganja and other narcotics were being enjoyed in flavoured combination. In hundreds of raids carried out by cops, a large number of youngsters were found hooked to the addiction of the hookah. Alarmed over the disturbing trend, the State Government banned hookah parlours.

Maharashtra is the second state after Gujarat to impose such a ban, which will come into effect immediately.