Panaji: In Goa, where liquor bars and stores dominate the business landscape, police and activists believe that ice cream and juice parlours are hubs of "anti-social activities" and have threatened a crackdown on these humble establishments.
Goa Police have threatened a crackdown on juice parlours in the south Goa district headquarters town of Margao, saying that they allow young couples to "cosy-up" in their premises over an ice-cream scoop or a glass of juice.
These measures, police say, have become necessary in view of the horrific New Delhi gang-rape, in which six people brutally raped and tortured a 23-year-old physiotherapy student who later succumbed to injuries.
"Students come to ice cream and juice parlours during school and college hours. We have directed owners to question why students skip classes," Superintendent of Police Shekhar Prabhudessai told IANS.
Goa has nearly 7,000 bars dotting the small state with almost one bar per 200 people, making the state, in all likelihood, the top state in the country as far as the bar-to-person ratio is concerned.
Students who frequent ice cream and juice parlours believe that cracking down on these establishments is just a case of the police barking up the wrong tree.
"I go to these places with my girlfriend because they are quieter and have privacy. A lot of other places like cafes are expensive. We don't have the money to go there," said John D'Souza (name changed) from Comba, a residential area near Margao.
"The places that are dangerous are these crime dens (bars). In these establishments, anti-social elements get drunk and harass tourists and girls and the police do nothing even though these places function beyond their official timings," Atish Kanerkar, a college student, said.
But Prabhudessai believes that a crackdown on ice cream parlours would help in keeping youth in check and prevent potential crimes.
"If parlour owners do not comply, we will go for cancellation of their licence," he said.
Last year, a juice parlour owner was arrested by police after he was caught on video urinating in a juice jug before serving it to the customers. But according to social activist Auda Veigas, hygiene is not quite top priority, at the moment.
"What the police and we are trying to do is make parlour owners aware of their responsibilities. They should not encourage students to bunk class or indulge in anti-social activities behind closed doors," Viegas said.