Telangana lockdown: Restaurants accuse police of harassing food delivery executives

Telangana State Hotels Association said that the restaurant staff are being detained and warned against conducting any operations.
Deliverymen of food aggregators Swiggy and Zomato wait outside a food outlet to collect their orders during nationwide Covid lockdown
Deliverymen of food aggregators Swiggy and Zomato wait outside a food outlet to collect their orders during nationwide Covid lockdown
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Alleging harassment and intimidation of restaurant staff and food delivery executives, particularly by the Cyberabad police under Kukatpally limits in Hyderabad, Telangana State Hotels Association (TSHA) - an association of hotels, restaurants, lodges, bars, cafes and tiffin centres - have sought the intervention of Minister of Industries and Commerce, K T Rama Rao, who is also the son of the Chief Minister. Expressing their plight amidst the prevailing pandemic and the lockdown induced financial burden, they said that the food and beverage industry is on its “last thread” hoping to survive on deliveries. TSHA alleged that while delivery personnel of e-commerce platforms are being allowed to move freely, in case of food delivery executives, the businesses for which they are conducting deliveries are being identified and the staff are being intimidated. In some cases, the delivery workers are being detained with warnings to not operate, TSHA said. 

“This is in contradiction to public statements made by officials at all levels and also in violation of the GO under implementation. Further, several businesses operate their own e-commerce platform and their delivery personnel are not being allowed to move around,” TSHA said in its letter. As per the GO issued on May 11, delivery of all e-commerce and home delivery services were permitted. The association requested the Minister to rein in the police and stop harassment against the restaurant staff. “The food and beverage industry, the retail industry and the restaurant industry is on its last thread. Allowing some operations such as deliveries and e-commerce allows some hope of survival under the burden of continuing contractual obligations such as rentals, salaries and other overhead,” the association wrote. 

Telangana has been under lockdown since May 12, and recently police have further enforced a stricter implementation of the lockdown following directions from Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. Though the delivery executives are exempt from the lockdown, in violation of the Government Orders, they have been physically assaulted and their vehicles seized by the police. The lockdown will be under place till May 31.

The services of Swiggy and Zomato were stalled on Saturday, May 21, following police excess against the delivery executives. The services were resumed on Sunday, after the intervention of the Director General of Police. Since the ‘strict’ implementation of the lockdown, there have been numerous complaints of police harassing people who are providing medicines even when they have the mandated e-pass. 

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