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Posh Pune bar sealed for 'serving' drugs to minor, five arrested, two cops suspended (Lead)

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Pune, June 24 (IANS) In an all-night operation, the Pune police raided and sealed a posh bar in the city for allegedly "serving" drugs to minors and also suspended two police officials for dereliction of duty, officials said on Monday.

Police teams swooped on the Liquid Leisure Lounge (L3) in the tony Fergusson College Road vicinity after a social media video surfaced showing a couple of minor boys allegedly consuming drugs in the restaurant’s washroom with a rocking party in the background early on Sunday.

Following an uproar, Commissioner of Police Amitesh Kumar ordered a probe and a police team swooped on L3 on Sunday night, conducted a thorough search operation, and sealed the premises early on Sunday.

Deputy Commissioner of Police S.S. Gill later told media persons that the establishment would close the front entrance at 1.30 a.m., but had permitted sneak entry from the backdoor and the partying continued practically till dawn, videos of which leaked out.

Police have also arrested the L3 owner Santosh Kamthe, franchisee Ravi Maheshwari, manager Manas Malik, and staffers Utkarsh Deshmane and Yogendra Girafe, who were produced before a magistrate's court, which sent them to police custody till June 29. They have been charged under sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Maharashtra Police Act, the Maharashtra Prohibition Act, and the Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products Act.

Simultaneously, the Pune police have suspended Police Inspector Anil Mane and Assistant Police Inspector Dinesh Patil, for alleged dereliction of duty as the establishment falling in their jurisdiction blatantly flouted rules and they turned a blind eye to the goings-on right under their noses.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said the matter was serious and promised stringent efforts to make Pune drug-free as also the rest of Maharashtra. Newly-elected Pune MP and Union Minister Murlidhar K. Mohol said that such incidents were giving a bad image to Pune and also assured strong action.

The opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) demanded the resignation of Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis for what they claimed was the total collapse of the law and order situation in the state. Nationalist Congress Party-SP state President Jayant Patil, Congress MLA Ravindra Dhangekar and Shiv Sena-UBT’s MP Sanjay Raut and Deputy Leader Sushma Andhare slammed the regime for the series of crimes that have rocked Pune in the past few months with the state government unable to control the downslide despite huge anger among the people.

As the row boiled over, the Patit Pavan Sanghatana staged a protest and pelted stones at the closed shutters of the L3 bar in the afternoon.

--IANS

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