THIRTY-ONE young people have been fined for “indecent” dancing in Mumbai.
City police officer Mahesh Patil told The Times of India newspaper that the individuals were fined 1200 rupees ($26) each after a raid on a nightclub in the northern suburb of Malad on Saturday night.
“Ten of the 31 offenders were girls. They were dancing vulgarly in the converted disco, which is considered to be a public place,” the officer was quoted as saying, without elaborating.
The raid, in which 77 people – including diners – were detained, was initially for playing music without a licence, but police decided to act after finding the dancing “objectionable”, the daily newspaper added.
News of the raid quickly led to a protest group, Stop Moral Policing in Mumbai, being set up on the social networking site Facebook, calling for the police, certain political parties and individuals to “stop defining indecency”.
As well as the Malad incident, it cited the reported arrests of young people holding hands in a western Mumbai suburb in 2007.
The incident comes after the state government of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, raised the minimum age for buying and consuming beer from 18 to 21 and spirits from 21 to 25 to combat problem drinking.
The move sparked outrage among young people, who are the mainstay of Mumbai’s vibrant nightlife, which is already curtailed by early closing times.
The state has previously tried to close dance bars – where female performers dance to Bollywood tunes– branding them dens of iniquity and fronts for prostitution and the criminal underworld.
But the order was overturned, with a court stating that it violated sections of the Indian constitution guaranteeing “fundamental rights of livelihood”.