Sofitel Hotel in the Bandra Kurla Complex turned into a fortress from Saturday night after 14 rebel MLAs of the Congress and the JDS in Karnataka came to stay here.
When The Hindu visited the hotel at 7.30 p.m. on Monday, a police vehicle was parked outside and several police officers were manning the entrance. The television camera crew lined up outside were kept at bay. This was despite reports of the MLAs already having departed from the hotel at 5 p.m.
Visitors were greeted by the hotel security staff, who checked all baggage and also subjected the guests to body checks. Security officials, both police and civilian, were constantly updating each other on every small movement in the hotel premises.
The Pondicherry Cafe inside the hotel was shut. Guests were told that it was due to “maintenance issues” and redirected to the bar. Police personnel were seen sitting inside, nursing cups of tea.
A waiter at the bar, when asked about the sudden “maintenance issues” at the cafe, laughed in response but was quick to share the query with a colleague. There was a subtle yet noticeable effort to keep every visitor within eyesight, and over-inquisitive staring at the policemen milling about was tacitly discouraged by hotel staff smoothly moving into the line of sight.
Several visitors, trying to leave through the main exit, were redirected to alternative exits for “security reasons”and visitors were escorted till they were off the premises.