Even as Chief Minister Siddaramaiah reportedly considers a proposal to extend the 11.30 p.m. deadline for closing of bars and restaurants, the Bangalore police are dreading the prospect of their personnel being further stretched.
“The existing police force of 14,000 is already overworked and extending the closing time means more work for the police to maintain law and order,” claimed a senior police officer here.
For a population of one crore, there are only 11,000 police personnel to maintain law and order. Besides, there are about 3,000 traffic policemen. “This is the lowest strength compared to other metro cities,” said the officer.
According to him, around 3,000 vacancies are yet to be filled. “We have no problems with the extension of deadlines to hotels, but the government should fill the existing vacancies first and give at least 3,000 more police force to manage the nightlife,” he said, adding that the police would give consent for extension of closing time for eateries and hotels, “as it is a basic need”, but not for bars and restaurants.
Echoing his view that the extension would have a “cascading effect” on policing, another policeman said that with over 1,500 registered bars and restaurants in the city, the police will have to depute at least two personnel at each outlet. This, he argued, would be at the cost of regular patrolling in residential areas to check harassment, road rage and unruly behaviour.
Meanwhile, City Police Commissioner Raghavendra H. Auradkar said he has not received a proposal on the extension. “We have not opposed the extension, but we will present our points of view before the government,” he said.
Sources in the Police Department said the government would soon convene a meeting to discuss the issue with stakeholders including the police and a cross-section of society before taking a decision.
On their part, Excise Department officials see no security problems in extending the deadline to star hotels serving liquor. These places have their own security arrangements unlike regular bars and restaurants, Joint Commissioner of Excise Nagendrappa pointed out.
A few hotels in the city have special permission to operate beyond 1 a.m.