Amid the ongoing chaos across the globe due to the increase in the number of positive cases of novel coronavirus, people across the globe are left with so many questions and doubts in their minds. On Tuesday night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days until April 15 in a bid to control the spread of the deadly virus. So between the jigs and reels, many people including the law enforcement officials were unsure of how to tackle the current scenario leading to severe inconvenience in times of an unprecedented crisis.
Recently, e-commerce companies delivering essentials like groceries, medicines and food alleged that they are facing harassment by the police officials and security guards. As per the news reports, the online retailers have called for an urgent intervention from the government on the same. Besides, a huge amount of fres produce had to be dumped because of the disruptions, they said. Speaking on the same, K Ganesh, promoter of online platforms like BigBasket, FreshMenu and Portea Medical, said in an interview with NDTV that over the last few days, policemen have abused, assaulted and in one case even arrested a delivery agent leading to huge disruption in their activities.
"Even though the government has taken the right step and has been categorical in exempting essential services and have specified essential services like online delivery of goods, groceries, food, medicines and medical equipment, that message has not gone to the people down the line," Ganesh said. He added, "The cop there does not know that it's an essential service, he has no mechanism to allow and disallow somebody. In many cases, they are being harsh, they are beating uppeople. In Kerala, one of our health workers going to service a patient was arrested.”
He further said, "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.”
Echoing similar sentiments,popular online grocery retailer Grofers and meat delivery platform FreshToHome,
also said they were facing obstructions from local authorities in delivering as they were conforming to the coronavirus lockdown indiscriminately. Founder of Grofers, Saurabh Kumar tweeted that they are facing trouble in getting essentials delivered to people who need them as their warehouses were being asked to shut by the authorities. He wrote, “We @grofers are having a lot of trouble getting essentials to people who need them as our warehouses are asked to shut, and trucks and delivery partners are being stopped by the police. We apologise to our customers and are working hard to find a solution.” (sic)
We @grofersare having a lot of trouble getting essentials to people who need them as our warehouses are asked to shut, and trucks and delivery partners are being stopped by the police. We apologise to our customers and are working hard to find a solution.— Saurabh Kumar (@theknownface) March 22, 2020
.@groferswarehouses cater to 5000 to 10000 orders daily so for every facility that gets shut we risk that many households venturing out for grocery buying. Hoping sense prevails here. We apologise to our customers again. We are trying our best to get all our facilities up.— Saurabh Kumar (@theknownface) March 23, 2020
He also wrote, “Despite assurances that grocery is an essential service and @grofers shouldcontinue to operate, police and local authorities continue to shut warehouses. All the proactive initiatives of govt and central authorities is going to waste because of overzealous enforcement agencies.” (sic)
Despite assurances that grocery is an essential service and @grofersshould continue to operate, police and local authorities continue to shut warehouses. All the proactive initiatives of govt and central authorities is going to waste because of overzealous enforcement agencies.— Saurabh Kumar (@theknownface) March 23, 2020
Adding to that, another e-tailer Freshtohome said, “Home Delivery Associates are doing the job of Rashtra Rakshaks, serving a noble cause of delivering food and grocery, but across the country, we are facing hurdles in delivering orders, request you to declare home delivery as an essential service.@PMOIndia.” (sic)
Home Delivery Associates are doing the job of Rashtra Rakshaks, serving a noble cause of delivering food and grocery, but across the country, we are facing hurdles in delivering orders, request you to declare home delivery as an essential service.@PMOIndia—Freshtohome - 100% Fresh 0% Chemicals (@myfreshtohome) March 23, 2020
The disruptions have led to severe wastage. In a message to customers, grocery and milk delivery website MilkBasket said it was forced to dump 15,000 litres of milk and 10,000 kg of vegetables. Sadly, it said it will not be able to deliver fresh milk in Gurgaon, Noida and Hyderabad even on Day 2 of the lockdown.
@PMOIndia@cmohry@narendramodi@BJP4Haryana#milkbasketwhy 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
Besides, the news report further suggested that takeaway restaurants are also facing a similar crackdown. Arjun Jaiswal, founder of Baking Bad, a pizza delivery chain in Delhi NCR, alleged that staff on two-wheelers were caned by the Delhi Police. Jaiswal told NDTV, "In the East of Kailash area in south Delhi, delivery boy riding bikes are being lathi-charged. In Noida, their phones were taken away while they tried to show proof. There is complete chaos."
However, in the wake of the increasing reports of such incidents, the Modi government recently said it was taking necessary steps to ensure smooth delivery of the essentials.
Also, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, "We will issue e-passes to vegetable-sellers, grocers among others to ensure essential supplies during the lockdown." Furthermore, Gurgaon and Noida Police also tweeted that they had asked policemen to allow delivery services without causing any hindrance.
All officers of Noida Police have been directed that following online delivery services @Grofers@milkbasket@bigbasket@Zomato@HarvestGold@easyday& @Spencershall be allowed to operate their services.#IndiaFightsCorona@Uppolice@CP_Noidapic.twitter.com/YQOMbtetcv—POLICE COMMISSIONERATE NOIDA (@noidapolice) March 25, 2020
#HaryanaPolicehas directed all CPs & District SPs to allow movement of essential goods & services including delivery boys of various eCommerce portals like Amazon, BigBasket, Zomato, Swiggy etc & those engaged in homecare treatment of patients@nsvirk@cmohry#CoronaStopKaroNa—Haryana Police (@police_haryana) March 25, 2020
PM Modi, in his televised speech earlier, requested people to refrain from panic-buying and ensured that there will be no shortage of the essentials.