Hyderabad: Though there is a police order banning minors from hookah parlours and sheesha bars, minors are often caught during raids on these enterprises. In a raid on around 25 hookah centers in the West Zone area last Saturday, around 20 minors were caught. However, the owners of hookah centers are booked only under the City Police Act, which is not effective, say cops. Stringent laws should be introduced to curb this menace and prevent minors, especially school kids, from visiting these places, said West Zone DCP A. Venkateswara Rao.
In January, West Zone police raided 50 hookah centres and apprehended around 25 minors. In December 2015, 15 college students, aged around 16, were nabbed from a hookah parlour in Falaknuma. With around 500 hookah centers in Hyderabad and Cyberabad, strict orders under the City Police Act are in place asking managements to prohibit the entry of minors. Smoking hookah is not prohibited and there are no strict laws to control it. Students, including girls, even skip school to visit hookah parlours.
Whenever minors are caught in police raids on hookah centres, a case under Section 188 of the City Police Act for “disobedience of order promulgated by a public servant” is registered, which is hardly effective to curb this phenomenon. Most of the centres run as hotels, coffee shops or small restaurants and some even serve alcohol without permission. “During the raids we have seized hookah material and sent them to APFSL, but the results did not show any narcotic content. But still, keeping in view the kids who are getting addicted to it, we are continuing raids,” said Mr Venkateswara Rao.
He added that a detailed study regarding why people were getting addicted to hookah and its problems should be conducted. “We are working on a plan to reach out to educational institutions to create awareness among students about hookah. This will include counselling by experts to students and parents and a series of awareness modules,” said Mr Rao.
Addict tried to sell kidney:
Mr Bhasker (name changed), a 20-year-old engineering student and the only son of a top city industrialist, started smoking hookah as a pass time with friends while he was in class VIII. At one point of time, he even contacted an agent to sell his kidney to fund his hookah habit after his parents stopped him. He had got addicted to hookah in school and had gone on to an extreme level of addiction after he moved to Bengaluru for engineering. After his parents figured out that he had a problem, as he kept asking for more money, they brought him back home for treatment.
Bhasker was good in academics till he became addicted to hookah. His behaviour changed completely when he was studying in Classes VIII and IX. “We thought that it was just because of transition to teenage years. But he was already addicted,” said his mother, a housewife.After he was brought back from Bengaluru for treatment, he became rebellious and had to be counselled for around nine months. Thankfully, after a series of counselling sessions Mr Bhasker is a normal person now....