LUDHIANA: More than a dozen school students were caught in a police raid at the hookah stations in two different restaurants located in posh areas of the city. The kids were handed over to their parents by the police after being called at these restaurants to make them aware of the activities of their children. It was late in the evening on Monday that the police team headed by division No 8 SHO, Maninder Bedi raided the hookah stations, Groovys Grove in Tagore Nagar and Hookie Cookie in Kichlu Nagar. There they caught hold of over a dozen school students enjoying hookah filled with nicotine. Interestingly, when the police called up the parents, it came to the light that some of these children had left home on the pretext of going to gym, while there were others who said they were going for tuition classes. This revealation has left parents shocked. Giving details, Bedi said, ‘It was following an information that these restaurants were serving hookah filled with nicotine in different flavours like apple, guava and other fruit flavours imported from UAE, that we raided these restaurants and found school children there.’ He added, ‘We have taken samples and sent it to the forensic laboratory for test. After receiving the report, we will take appropriate action in this regard.’ ‘There are several other such places in the city where nicotine loaded hookah are being served, but those areas do not fall under my jurisdiction, that’s why I cannot take any direct action against them.’ However, Bedi added, ‘But, I will definitely forward the information to the officials concerned and ensure action.’ LUDHIANA: In a joint operation carried out by police and health department sleuths against the alleged sale of tobacco products in four hookah bars of the city, as many as 90% of those detained from four restaurants on Wednesday night belonged to the student community. The series of raids have not just laid bare the gross violation of import and sales tax norms by hookah stations, but also brought much-needed attention to the disastrous fad of shisha smoking among young blood of the city. While police have registered FIRs against managers and owners of these restaurants, the detained youngsters were released after their parents were summoned by police. According to information given by division no 8 SHO Maninder Bedi, who had earlier raided one such restaurant on April 6, a team led by him raided four restaurants — Mr Beans near PVR in Sarabha Nagar, OHB near Gurunanak Public School, Hookie Cookie in Kichlu Nagar and Las Vegas near PAU. The most disturbing fact remains that many of those visiting these shisha stations are minors. Several youngsters thronged these shisha bars after their examinations. “We were so excited to come here and made a plan as soon as summer vacations took off. We just wanted to try hookah style smoking and did not have the slightest idea that cops would object. I have friends who came from as far as Shimla to enjoy flavoured shisha, said 16-year-old Sandeep (name changed), who was among those detained after the raid. These new-age restaurants import flavoured shisha containing .5% nicotine. “Shisha packs in flavours like guava and apple are being imported by these outlets from United Arab Emirates without attaining required licenses. Besides, these owners are not paying sales tax on revenue earned from shisha sales, and neither have obtained requisite permission from the district administration and police for selling tobacco products, despite a blanket ban on smoking in public places,” Bedi said. On being asked whether district administration will take action against such restaurants, deputy commissioner Vikas Garg said, “The activity is illegal. Infact, raids were conducted after attaining due permission from district administration.” Hookah trend in the city is relatively new when compared with metropolitan cities and has caught up fast in past three years.