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Last Updated: Monday, 4 April, 2005, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
Maharashtra dancing girls protest
Bombay bar protest
Bar workers at a previous protest against police raids
Hundreds of bar owners and dancing girls in India's Maharashtra state have taken to the streets to protest against a decision to close dance bars.

The girls shouted slogans alleging bias and demanding compensation.

The state government announced the immediate closure last week, saying the bars were a breeding ground for crime.

Mumbai's bars have been spared for now, but still saw colourful protests. The girls usually dance Bollywood numbers and clients often thrown them money.

'Not qualified'

The state has about 1,500 dance bars employing more than 100,000 women.

The government and police have long regarded the dance bars as venues for prostitution, although they are not illegal.

Mumbai dancing girl
The girls dance and customers often throw money

Monday's protesters were vociferous in their demand for justice.

The colourfully dressed bar girls claimed the closure move was clear discrimination and demanded a rehabilitation package.

Their representatives said the girls were not qualified enough to get work elsewhere.

The president of the Bar Owners' Association, Manjeet Singh, said that the protest was just the start of a bitter fight.

The owners are contemplating taking court action.

Last year thousands of bar girls took to the streets of Mumbai (Bombay) in protest against what they said were police abuses of innocent drinking dens in the city

Last week, Maharashtra's Home Minister RR Patil announced the closure, saying: "It has been seen that a lot of youths in these [rural] areas splurge money in these bars and indulge in crimes. On an immediate basis, the licences of these bars will be cancelled."

Mr Patil said a committee was still assessing Mumbai's bars and that a decision would be made soon.

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20 Aug 04 |  South Asia
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25 Feb 04 |  South Asia
Bombay bars offer 'Bollywood' girls
29 Oct 03 |  South Asia
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29 Jun 02 |  From Our Own Correspondent
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25 Dec 98 |  South Asia

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