Amid India lockdown, delivery boys allegedly harassed by police
Even though essential services such as food and groceries are exempted from the 21-day lockdown in India, e-commerce companies faced disruption of services. Apparently, the police continued to enforce the lockdown indiscriminately on Wednesday, allegedly thrashing and harassing delivery persons. The alleged police action led to a disruption of services, and one e-commerce firm had to discard 10,000 liters of milk.
Pan-India lockdown imposed amid coronavirus outbreak
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that India will be placed on full lockdown for 21 days, starting March 25. The lockdown was imposed in light of an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). However, essential services such as food and groceries were allowed to continue, so as to not making normal life difficult for India's 1.3 billion people.
BigBasket alleged local authorities obstructed movement of goods
As several BigBasket orders were disrupted, the online grocery store tweeted saying that local authorities have obstructed the movement of their goods despite clear guidelines issued by the government. The firm later informed that it will only be able to deliver in select cities: Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Coimbatore, Indore, Mumbai, Mysore, Noida, Surat, and Vadodara. Their services will remain disrupted in other cities.
Here's BigBasket's full statement
We regret the inconvenience caused, we are not operational due to restrictions imposed by local authorities on movement of goods in spite of clear guidelines provided by central authorities to enable essential services. We are working with the authorities to be back soon.— bigbasket (@bigbasket_com) March 25, 2020
E-tailers blame confusion among local authorities for disruption of services
Reportedly, action against several delivery platforms such as BigBasket, Grofers, Zomato, MilkBasket, etc., has continued the past few days as the lockdown was imposed in patches across India ahead of the 21-day nationwide lockdown. E-tailers blamed confusion about the government's directives among local authorities for the chaos. Some e-tailers were compelled to cancel/reschedule orders while others were reportedly asked to shut warehouses.
Zomato delivery person allegedly thrashed
And these are some pictures of brutality across cities like Mumbai and Delhi today. Delivery folks who were trying to deliver food and medicines.. clearly they don’t understand on ground what are essential services.. @narendramodi @CMOMaharashtra pic.twitter.com/uYmLr9oXjb— Samidha Sharma (@samidhas) March 24, 2020
'Forced to discard 15,000L milk, 10,000kg fruits, vegetables'
Milkbasket alleged that its vendors and employees were harassed for being outdoors and over 50 communities denied them entrance for making deliveries. The company said it was forced to dump 15,000 liters of milk and 10,000 kgs of fruits and vegetables. Milkbasket also said it will not be able to deliver fresh milk in Gurugram, Noida, and Hyderabad on Thursday either.
You can view Milkbasket's full statement here
@PMOIndia @cmohry @narendramodi @BJP4Haryana #milkbasket why milkbasket delivery guys are being harassed? Ain't milk and groceries considered as essentials? During the lockdown time, when there is so much of shortage of all the essentials, they had to dump 1000s of litres of milk pic.twitter.com/AnkC3XGMQN— Swati Walia (@Swati_w) March 24, 2020
'Cop does not know it's an essential service'
The promoter of online platforms like BigBasket, FreshMenu and Portea Medical, K Ganesh, told NDTV that the police have abused and assaulted delivery persons over the past few days, and in one case, even made an arrest. "The cop there does not know that it's an essential service," Ganesh said. "In Kerala, one of our health workers going to service a patient was arrested."
Ganesh fears employees may leave if colleagues get thrashed
Ganesh appealed, "People are risking their lives, please don't beat them up. Challan them. If people run away because their colleagues are beaten up, we cannot do anything. Don't beat up people trying to deliver goods and services."
Restaurants also faced similar issues during deliveries
Founder of pizza delivery chain Baking Bad, Arjun Jaiswal, told NDTV that delivery persons were being lathi-charged in South Delhi's East of Kailash. Jaiswal added, "In Noida, their phones were taken away while they tried to show proof. There is complete chaos." Captain Grub's Karan Nambiar also said their riders were thrashed, adding that the police did not provide any explanation for the crackdown.
Proactive government initiatives going to waste: Grofers founder
Grofers founder Saurabh Kumar tweeted Monday, "Despite assurances that grocery is an essential service and @grofers should continue to operate, police and local authorities continue to shut warehouses. All proactive initiatives of government and central authorities are going to waste because of overzealous enforcement agencies."
Government assures smooth delivery; e-passes to be issued in Delhi
At a news conference, the Centre assured the smooth delivery of basic necessities. The Delhi government declared that it will issue e-passes to vegetable-sellers, grocers, etc., to ensure essential supplies during the lockdown. Delhi Police Public Relations Officer MS Randhawa told NDTV they will take act on the allegations against cops. Gurugram and Noida Police asked their force to allow delivery services.
You can view Gurugram Police's tweet here
All officers of Gurugram Police have been directed that following online delivery services @zomato @flipkart @amazon @bluedart @wow_express @swiggy @groffers @bigbasket @milkbasket @dunzo @bigbazzar @Iffco Tokyo goods shall be allowed to operate.— Gurugram Police (@gurgaonpolice) March 25, 2020
And Noida Police's tweet here
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR RESIDENTS OF #NOIDA— POLICE COMMISSIONERATE NOIDA (@noidapolice) March 25, 2020
All identified home delivery personnel of ITC, Grofers, Milk Basket, BigBasket, Zomato, Harvest Gold, EasyDay and Spencer are allowed smooth movement as they fall under essential services category. #IndiaFightsCorona https://t.co/2sIy40gBRn