Violating the state's own Government Order (GO), the Hyderabad police on Saturday stopped delivery executives and in some instances, even assaulted them.

Food delivery executives faced a fine of Rs 1000 as Hyderabad police enforce lockdown
news Lockdown Saturday, May 22, 2021 - 19:17

Food aggregators Swiggy and Zomato on Saturday said that they have paused operations in Hyderabad until further clarity from the Telangana government on lockdown restrictions in the state. The companies were reacting to the Hyderabad police rounding up their delivery executives, seizing their vehicles and slapping fines on them. The Telangana government in their list of permitted activities at the time of announcing a lockdown, had included e-commerce (delivery) of goods and merchandise including food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. However, violating the state's own Government Order (GO), the police on Saturday stopped delivery executives and in some instances, even assaulted them.

Zomato executives had told the media that they were notified that the app will be in service till 4 pm on Saturday evening. Several delivery executives were stopped at checkpoints set up by the police as part of enforcing the lockdown based on Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s directions. Their bikes were seized and many were fined Rs 1000. A spokesperson for Zomato said, "This was an unforeseen development since the official government directive allowed food delivery as an essential service. We have paused our operations till we have clarity from the authorities, keeping in mind the safety of our delivery partners.” 

Also read: Hyderabad police stop food delivery executives as part of lockdown enforcement

Swiggy executives too faced a similar ordeal on Saturday and video footage had emerged of the police assaulting a few delivery executives with laathis. A Swiggy spokesperson said, “While the government’s recent directive allows Swiggy to operate as an essential service not just for our food deliveries but also Swiggy Genie and other services, we have paused our operations due to the on-ground challenges today. We’re prioritising the safety of delivery partners while we await clarity on this matter.” 

The Telangana Gig and Platform Workers Union questioned that the GO states that food delivery is permitted, then why the police were harassing delivery workers. It asked the police to release the seized vehicles and waive off the penalty imposed.  

The police later clarified that e-commerce food delivery has permission to operate. Rachakonda Commissioner Mahesh Baghwath speaking to NTV Telugu, clarified that the e-commerce food delivery has permission to operate. The officer said that the executives were hauled up after people were allegedly found misusing  Swiggy and Zomato T-shirts to roam around during the lockdown. “There is permission for e-commerce for food delivery but some youth were misusing the T-shirts of Swiggy and Zomato to roam around. The checks were initiated after a few people were found impersonating delivery persons wearing the T-shirts to move about. If you have passes you have travelled in the routes specified in the pass. Those violating this will be booked under the Disaster Management Act and Section 188 Indian Penal Code (IPC) (for Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), “ said the Commissioner.

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