Secret passage found in Pune bar during raid; license suspended 

Secret passage found in Pune bar during raid; license suspended 

Secret passage found in Pune bar during raid; license suspended 

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Discovery of Hidden Passage and Illegal Modifications Leads to Bar’s License Suspension

June 26, 2024

PUNE: Excise department officials on Tuesday announced the discovery of a secret passage connecting the first and second floors of Liquid Leisure Lounge (L3) bar on Fergusson College Road, violating the terms of the establishment’s license.

The Pune excise superintendent explained that the FL-III license of the establishment had been suspended due to illegal alterations in the bar. The owners had provided a different floor plan for serving liquor to customers when seeking the license, but after obtaining it, they made unauthorized modifications to the structure, including a hidden backdoor entry to the bar. The superintendent emphasized that such changes must be reported to the state excise and the civic body.

The discovery followed a viral video from Sunday showing two men consuming a substance in the bar’s washroom, prompting a major crackdown by the excise department. The operation uncovered a significant quantity of unlicensed liquor at L3, leading to the bar’s sealing by excise and police authorities.

A senior excise department official reported that the ground and first floors of the building housing L3 were registered in the name of Santosh Vitthal Kamthe as Hotel Rainbow. While these floors possessed a valid liquor license, inspectors found serious discrepancies in the bar’s approved layout, including unauthorized modifications to the approved permit room design.

Upon thorough inspection of Hotel Rainbow, significant discrepancies were detected on the licensed premises. Unauthorized internal modifications were found around the area designated for alcohol service. Consequently, the Pune collector ordered the immediate suspension of the establishment’s liquor license, and the premises were sealed pending further investigation. During the raid, the excise department also seized 241 liters of unlicensed foreign liquor and other materials valued at approximately Rs 3 lakh.

Another excise official noted that checks on such establishments are ongoing around the clock, but manpower limitations prevent personnel from being present in all such bars across the state at all times, allowing some establishments to take advantage.

Lawyer representing Santosh Kamthe, one of the two bar owners now in police custody, explained that his client had rented the commercial property to the three FL-III license holders and that the premises had all the necessary permissions from the state excise department.