Farmhouse parties-Throwing norms to wind

Tehelka SIT report unearths a disconcerting reality, unveiling farmhouses willing to host parties without adhering to the necessary alcohol consumption licenses, and flouting numerous excise regulations despite earlier raids and warnings by the excise department

“No policeman can enter my farmhouse. I can assure you that at my farmhouse, nobody will bother you. Your party will go on uninterrupted, and nobody can stop it, so you need not to worry. Because of our understanding with the police, they don’t come to the farmhouse when the party is on. However, I won’t mislead you; they do conduct routine checks. In fact, they recently sealed 2-3 farmhouses for hosting illegal parties. Rest assured, though, you will not face any problem during the party.”

Meet Arjun Singh, the manager of a farmhouse located in the Yamuna floodplains near Sector 135 of Noida, Uttar Pradesh. Arjun Singh shared this information when Tehelka’s investigative reporter met with him to discuss a fictitious plan of hosting his son’s upcoming wedding anniversary celebration at the farmhouse on December 20, 2023.

According to Excise department rules, to serve alcohol at a party held anywhere in Gautam Budh Nagar, an “occasional bar license” is issued for Rs 11,000, allowing the service of only liquor made for sale in Uttar Pradesh. Without this license, the party could be deemed illegal, and may face scrutiny from both the excise department and the police.

In our case, Manager Arjun Singh assured our reporter — who approached him with a fictitious deal to host his son’s wedding anniversary party at the farmhouse — that we can hold a party without obtaining an “occasional bar license” and can also serve liquor from other states besides UP, which is otherwise against excise department rules.

“We pay 20k per month as bribe money to the local police to keep them away from our farmhouse. After that, we are free to do whatever we want inside our farmhouse,” said Amar Singh Chauhan and Satyam, the two middlemen of the area whom we encountered during our investigation.

It may be mentioned that ahead of Christmas and New Year festivities, the Noida excise department has informed all the farmhouse owners of Yamuna floodplains that the “occasional bar license” is mandatory for all large gatherings, including parties on New Year’s Eve, Christmas or any other occasion. Violations of this requirement will result in charges being levied against both the event organizers and the owners of the premises where the party is hosted, the notice said.

Last month, the Noida excise department had conducted a search during a party in a farmhouse in Noida’s sector 135 and arrested four persons for illegally serving liquor, which was made for sale only in Haryana. The organisers had not procured the “Occasional bar license” either. For obtaining license, one can visit the excise department’s web portal and fill the form, and submit a fee of Rs 11,000 and get the “Occasional bar license”. Violations of norms will lead to action under the Uttar Pradesh Excise Act.

These farmhouses are not only hosting illegal parties but are also illegally built on Yamuna floodplain, mostly in sectors 128, 129, 130, 131, 134, 135, 151 and 152 of Noida, in violation of  environmental rules. According to an old survey conducted by the Noida authority in 2019, there are at least 2000 upscale farmhouses equipped with swimming pools, banquet halls, and other luxury amenities in the floodplains. The Noida authority and Gautam Budh Nagar district administration have demolished several farmhouses under its anti-encroachment drive from time to time. The National Green Tribunal [NGT] in its multiple notices has ordered the demolition of all illegal constructions on Yamuna floodplains as they damage the ecological integrity of the area. These farmhouses were recently submerged by floodwater. But despite all demolition drives, these farmhouses are thriving and attracting thousands of visitors, especially youngsters, to hold all types of parties on their premises.

These Noida farmhouses have consistently made headlines for all the wrong reasons. In an effort to uncover the truth, Tehelka decided to launch an investigation. Our first point of inquiry led us to the Farm area near Sector 135, which houses a majority of the farmhouses frequently used for hosting parties. Upon entering the area, we observed numerous wall inscriptions bearing warnings from the excise department, explicitly advising against the consumption of liquor from other states. The breach of this rule is stated as a punishable offence.

We first met Arjun Singh, manager of a farmhouse spread across one acre. Hailing from Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, Arjun Singh explained that he’d been managing the farmhouse for several years, as the owner resided in Gurgaon. We informed Arjun Singh about our plans for a fictitious party with 100 guests at his farmhouse on December 20, a party for which we wouldn’t be applying for a temporary liquor license. We also set another condition: that liquor from other states, including imported brands, be allowed for consumption at the party.

To this, Arjun agreed, confidently assuring us that no policeman would enter his farmhouse during the party. According to Arjun Singh, 2-3 farmhouses in the same area had recently been sealed for holding similar parties. However, he assured us that he would inform the police about our party in advance, ensuring they wouldn’t disrupt it.

Reporter- Acha aap keh rahe hain mein sab check kar lunga to kya jab party function hota hai to police waale aatey hain yahan check karne.?.

Arjun- Agar pehle se baat ho rakhi hogi to nahi aayenge..baki mein aapko kyun jhooth bolun, aatey hain, har farmhouse par aatey hain..abhi 2-3 farm house seal hue hain, sab mein aisey hi party kara rahe hain…guest ko bol detey hain ki sari zimmedari hamari hai, magar us time par kuch hota nahi time jab function chal raha hota hai, tab to kuch ho nahi sakta phir..

Reporter- Aisa na ho phir hamarey liye koi dikkat ho..sabke saamney?

Arjun- Agar aapke saath aisa hota to mein aapko batata nahi?…Is farm house ki guarantee mein poori leta hoon, yahan aapko koi touch nahi karega, koi police wala nahi aayega, ander gate k ander nahi aa sakta, aapki party chalegi aap befikar rahiye, party mein aapko koi bhi problem nahi hogi…

Reporter- Ye aapki guarantee hai..?

Arjun- Ye meri guarantee hai..aap is baat se bilkul befikar rahiye..

Reporter- Theek hai..

[Arjun Singh, manager of a farmhouse, readily agreed to our proposal, expressing confidence that the police would not interfere with the party at his farmhouse. Arjun guaranteed that he would preemptively notify the police about our party to prevent any disruption.]

Before formalizing the agreement with Arjun Singh, we reiterated that we wouldn’t take “occasional bar license” and would bring our own liquor, including out-of-state brands and imported brands. Upon hearing this, Arjun requested Rs 80,000 for the space and his assurance of police protection. After some negotiation, we settled on a final price of Rs 75,000.

Reporter- Hum licence nahi banwana chah rahe hain aur hum chahtey hain aapki zimmedari ho..

Arjun- Zimmedari meri rahegi magar phir 80K dene padege aapko..?

Arjun- Main zimmedari lunga to mein phir aage bhi apni bana k rakhunga na, ki main kis cheez ki zimmedari le raha hoon…

Reporter- Matlab aap ye keh rahe ho ki bina license k hum party kar saktey hain, lekin dene 80 hazar hi honge..

Arjun- Aap 75 hazar kar dena , last price aapke liye yahi rahenge…poori zimmedari meri hai..

Reporter-Poori zimmedari mein kya kya hai..?

Arjun- Aap daru bhi la saktey ho, pee saktey ho, zyada nahi honi chahiye, limit se zyada nahi honi chahiye..

Reporter- Theek hai..

[Prior to finalizing the arrangement, we explicitly communicated our decision to not to obtain “an occasional bar license’’ and to bring our own liquor, including out-of-state brands. After negotiations, we reached a final agreement at Rs 75k.]

In order to arrange things in advance, Arjun asked us to let him know about the quantity of liquor to be brought to the party. We assured him that the overall liquor consumption would be minimal, but only imported liquor would be used by our international guests. He concurred with our request

Reporter- Aur liquor itni zyada nahi hogi..

Arjun –Aap mujhe pehle bata dena hamari liquor itni hogi…usi hisab se mein intezaam kar dunga…

Reporter- Videshi bhi hogi usmein..?

Arjun- Aap bata dena, kyunki batana bahut zaroori hota hai…

Reporter- Mein aapko bata dunga.

Arjun- Kyunki hame aagey bhi batana hota hai…

Reporter- Mein aapko pehle clear kar doon, videshi mehmaan bhi honge hamare to videshi liquor bhi hogi..

Arjun- Theek hai..

Reporter- Mein aapko abhi se bata kar chal raha hoon

Arjun- Theek hai, mein aapko kal tak aur confirm kar dunga..

[Arjun requested for details about the party’s liquor quantity in advance, and we assured him it would be of modest quantity, except for imported liquor intended for our international guests.]

Since Arjun is only a manager, we asked him whether his farmhouse owner will be taken into confidence about our planned private event without a formal license? Arjun assured us that as he was managing the farmhouse for the past four years and being from Bareilly, we need not worry. He claimed that the owner’s consent is secured, and he handles all the bookings.

Reporter- Accha maalik ki consent hai na ismein..?

Arjun- Bilkul hai…is farm house ko mein hi chala raha hoon..

Reporter- Aisa na ho maalik kahe tumne kaise de diya consent ?

Arjun- Chaar saal se is farm house ko mein hi chala raha hoon… mein hi booking leta hoon aur mein hi dekhta hoon…

Reporter- Maalik ki taraf se razamandi hai na.. aisa na ho aap book kar do aur wo mana kar de..?

Arjun- Na- cheez ki aap befikar rahiye, mein aapko yahin par milunga…mein bareilley se hoon..

[Given that Arjun’s role was only confined to managing the farmhouse, we inquired about the owner’s consent for a private event without a formal license. Arjun assured us that every event is held at the farmhouse with the owner’s consent.]

When we began discussing our party with Arjun, he initially recommended obtaining an “occasional bar license” at a cost of Rs 11k, stating that the use of liquor from states other than Uttar Pradesh was restricted at the farmhouse. He cited two instances of farmhouses in the area being sealed for violating excise department rules. However, he later agreed to proceed with our party without the license and also permitted the use of liquor from other states.

Reporter- Aur mein bhai se baat kar raha tha.. koi dikkat to nahi hogi ?

Arjun- Koi dikkat nahi.. liqour to nahi hogi?

Reporter- Liquor to hogi.

Arjun- Phir license banwana padega..UP ki hi daru chalegi warna nahi chalegi..

Reporter- Hamare pass to dekhiye, maine bola bhi tha inko..baith jao aap bhi..

Arjun – Actually aisa hai na abhi kuch din pehle 5-6 din pehle se Haryana aur Delhi ki daru band hai…sirf UP ki hi daru chal sakti hai..ab 2 to seal ho gayi sirf daru k chakker mein..

[In the initial stages of our party discussions with Arjun, he suggested acquiring an “occasional bar license” for Rs 11k, citing restrictions on the use of liquor from states other than UP at the farmhouse. However, he later relented on the pre-conditions and agreed to host our party]

Now, Arjun apprised us about the procedure of obtaining “occasional bar license” even as he mentioned that, once acquired, we would be able to serve liquor from any state at our party.

Reporter- License kaisa matlab samjha nahi mein ?

Arjun- Liquor ka license banta hai Rs 1100  ka, phir aapko koi problem nahi hogi..

Reporter- Phir aap koi si bhi daru piyo ?

Arjun- Koi bhi piyo

Reporter- Ye kaun banwaiyega ?

Arjun- Mujhe de dena mein banwa dunga. 11 hazar rupees lagtey hain..

[Arjun briefed us on the steps to secure an “occasional bar license” and explained that, once obtained, we could freely serve liquor from any state at our party.]

Arjun also assured us that we could have a Disc Jockey (DJ) playing throughout the night at his farmhouse. It’s worth noting that the government has set 10 pm as the permissible limit for the DJ, after which it is not allowed. However, Arjun assured us that we need not worry about the 10 p.m. limit.

Reporter- Iske elawa bachta hi kya hai ?

Arjun- Ab music system bhi hai poori raat bajta hai…poori raat chalega uski bhi koi dikkat nahi aayegi..

Reporter- 10 baje k baad allowed nahi hai DJ bhi ?

Arjun- 10 kay 11 baj jaye koi dikkat nahi hai..baki yahan par DJ ki koi problem nahi hai…full night chala saktey hain…is farm house k ander.. iski guarantee hai..

[Arjun guaranteed us the freedom to have a Disc Jockey (DJ) playing all night at his farmhouse despite the mandatory DJ limit until 10 p.m.  Arjun assured us that we didn’t have to concern ourselves with this restriction.]

Earlier, during our search for a farmhouse for a party in the Farm area near Sector 135, Noida, we encountered a middleman named Amar Singh Chauhan. He assured us of providing a farmhouse for our party and introduced us to Satyam, who is associated with the farmhouse. Subsequently, Satyam led us to the farmhouse, where we met Arjun Singh, the manager. In line with Arjun Singh’s assurance, both Satyam and Amar Singh also guaranteed that we could host a liquor party in their farmhouse, allowing us to consume liquor from other states. They emphasized that no one would interfere as they are regularly paying a bribe of Rs 20k per month to the local police.

Reporter- Mein wahi pooch raha tha koi dikkat pareshani to nahi hogi.?

Satyam – Kisi baat ki aapko pareshani nahi hogi..

Amar singh- Ye phir inki zimmedari hai na…kyunki yahan to partyaan hoti hain…koi dikkat nahi hai.

Reporter- Matlab aadmi koi liquor wiqour piye ?

Satyam- Dekho Haryana ki daru aap mat peena..UP ki chahe kitni bhi aap pee lo

Reporter- Bhai koi bahar ka le aaye ?

Satyam – Bahar ka le aaye koi baat nahi hai..kyunki hum police ko 20 hazar rupiya mahina detey hain.

[During our encounter with middlemen Amar Singh Chauhan and Satyam, they stressed that our party  would go unimpeded, citing their regular payment of a Rs 20k monthly bribe to the local police.]

“Paying 20k per month as a bribe to the local police?” As our surprised reporter posed this question to middlemen Amar Singh and Satyam, they confessed that all the farmhouses in the area are indeed making monthly payment of Rs 20,000 as bribe to the local police station. According to them, this payment is a prerequisite for conducting any activity without adhering to rules within the farmhouses. The duo revealed that the farmhouses were sometimes constrained to pay bribes because if they did not do so they ran the risk of inviting police action, including demolition under the pretext of illegal construction.

Reporter- Hain ji ?

Satyam- Hum police ko 20k mahina detey hain, sabhi farm house wale detey hain..

Amar singh- Sabhi farm house wale detey hain…jabhi to chal rahe hain ye dhande yahan, nahi to wo chalney nahi dengey….abhi kai k to farm house todey bhi hain na inhoney jo inhein paisa nahi detey they…todh k chale gaye, okhadh diya gate wait…

Reporter- Police walon ne ?

Amar singh- Haan

Reporter- Paisa nahi de rahe they wo.?

Amar singh- Kar jaatey hain wo ye kaam ..isilye unse bandhney padte hain phir paise…

Satyam- Magar udhar koi aapke pass nahi aayega.

[The duo’s revelation that refusal by farmhouses to pay the bribe was a recipe for a potential police action, including demolition under the pretext of illegal construction, highlights not only the widespread nature of such practices but also underscores the challenges faced by those who resist participating in them.]

Amar Singh informed us that in Uttar Pradesh, the consumption of liquor from other states is prohibited. Only the state liquor is permitted within the region. He drew our attention to the warnings posted on the walls in the area, cautioning against the use of liquor brought from other states in farmhouses.

Amar singh- Kyunki dekho us taraf zyada hai, kyunki udhar Haryana hai aur Haryana se zyada latey hain sharab..

Reporter- Doosre rajya ki sharab UP mein nahi hai.. pee nahi saktey aap ?

Amar singh- Haan.. kyunki bahut jagah aapne banner bhi likhe hue dekhe honge.. unhoney diwaron par bhi likha hai ki doosre rajya ki sharab lana yahan avaidh hai…

[Amar Singh conveyed to us that it is not permissible to consume liquor from other states in Uttar Pradesh; and only locally produced state liquor is allowed for consumption.]

However. Satyam and Amar Singh both assured us that we wouldn’t have to go through the trouble of obtaining the “occasional bar license’ for the party. Satyam disclosed that college-going couples coming to farmhouse for parties often create hungama, raising the risk of potential issues. However, he reassured us that as our event is a simple gathering, it will proceed smoothly without any hassle.

Satyam- Ab party jaise aapki shadi party hai, koi dikkat nahi hai, kuch aisey hotey hain jaise ladka ladki aaye, unhoney daru piya gadar kiya, to iske liye… aur koi baat nahi hai..

Amar singh- Dikkat wahan hai.

Satyam- Aisi party hum letey bhi nahi hai.

Reporter- Accha hamey koi license to nahi lena padega ?

Satyam- Nahi- nahi, kuch nahi..

Reporter- Free hai sab, poori guarantee hai ?

Satyam- Haan poori guarantee hai.

[Satyam and Amar Singh both guaranteed that acquiring an ‘occasional bar license’ for the party wouldn’t be necessary. They assured us that our event would progress smoothly without encountering any issue.]

For clarity, we inquired whether we were responsible for paying the 20k bribe to the police or if they would manage the matter themselves. In response, they assured us that we need not concern ourselves with these matters, revealing that the farmhouse owner would personally handle the issue of payment of the bribe to the police.

Reporter- Jo aap bata rahe hain ki 20k letey hain farmhouse se.. to sab se latey hain ya jo party k liye uthatey hain..?

Satyam- Party nahi, unse letey hain jinka farmhouse hai..

Reporter- Matlab hame to nahi dena padega?

Amar singh- Nahi- nahi aap se koi matlab nahi.

[The duo disclosed that the farmhouse owner would personally take care of the issue of bribe payment to the police.]

Both Satyam and Amar assured us that guests from overseas could be served imported liquor during the party. However, they emphasized that if the guests ventured towards the Haryana border or consumed alcohol outside the farmhouse, they wouldn’t be responsible if the police apprehended them. They made it clear that they could only ensure the safety of our guests when they remained within the confines of the farmhouse.

Reporter- Dekho bhai hamarey kuch videshi guests bhi hain, wo aa rahe hain 15 ko…to bhai wo to videshi sharab bhi layengey..?

Satyam- Layen.. koi dikkat nahi hai..bhai agar aap nikal gaye Haryana, pakde meri zimmedari nahi hai…ya bahar pee rahe hain bethkar.. meri zimmedari nahi hai, haan farm k ander police nahi jayegi..

Reporter- Aapka matlab aapke samne police nahi jayegi..?

Satyam- Nahi jayegi, ye guarantee hai meri..

Reporter- Chahe videshi lao

Satyam- Kahin ki lao..

Amar singh – Koi dikkat nahi hai..

Amar singh- Inke us mein (farmhouse) yahi kaam chalta hai, foreign wale bhi aatey hain , bahut aatey hain foreign wale.

[Satyam and Amar clarified that their assurance of safety only extends only to our guests staying within the premises of the farmhouse.]

Tehelka SIT’sinvestigation has unearthed a disconcerting reality: farmhouses brazenly hosting parties without proper alcohol consumption licenses, flouting numerous excise regulations despite repeated crackdowns and stern warnings by the excise department. The time is ripe for decisive action by the excise department to address these blatant violations and ensure accountability within the farmhouse community. The department must crack down on these blatant violations, ensure accountability within the farmhouse community, and safeguard public well-being. The urgency of this matter cannot be overstated; immediate intervention is imperative to uphold the integrity of regulatory frameworks.