Mumbai: Christmas Eve and Christmas day celebrations were a sedate affair this year, with liquor shops, restaurants and bars downing their shutters at the usual closing time. The reason? The powers that wanted to prevent a repeat of the situation in Delhi in the wake of the shocking gang-rape.
Even though the state excise department gave its permission to serve alcohol well past midnight, the city police refused all applications submitted by bar and restaurant owners for relaxations in deadlines.
Believing that clamping down on revelries would prevent untoward incidents, the home department took pre-emptive measures and instructed the police to reject all applications for deadline extensions for Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
In fact, a plan had earlier been drawn up to relax norms from December 24 to 31, as a number of cooperative housing societies, offices and clubs organise their parties at this time. But the home department stuck to its stand.
According to a senior functionary of the Democratic Front, the government is exercising extreme caution in the wake of the gang rape of the 23-year old student in Delhi, and the shockwaves it sent across the country, culminating in angry protests in the nation's Capital.
The official also claimed that the explicit instructions were issued out of fear that the molestation of women during the revelries might lead to a backlash similar to the protests in Delhi. "If a woman were to be molested or harassed, there's a good chance that the already outraged public would react, causing a repetition of the sequence of events witnessed in Delhi," said the senior functionary.
The department was forced to allow an exemption for December 31, New Year's Eve, fearing resentment from citizens who are accustomed to New Year celebrations. The city police toed the department's line, making sure that all wine shops, restaurants and bars downed their shutters at the usual time. The move of course adversely affected the state excise department, which was hoping to cash in on the festive season and generating maximum revenues.
Home Minister R R Patil said that the police were just doing their best to prevent any unpleasant incidents.