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“15,000 Ltrs Milk, 10,000 kg Veg Dumped”: E-Retailers Allege Police Beating Up Delivery Agents

Across India, there have been reports of grocery, medicine and food delivery agents being abused and assaulted by policemen.

New Delhi| E-retailer’s delivery agents providing essentials like groceries, medicines and food are facing attacks and harassment from law enforcement officials and security guards, leading to severe inconvenience in times of an unprecedented crisis, online retailers have said, calling for an urgent intervention from the government. A huge amount of fresh produce had to be thrown away because of the disruptions, they said.

Though the Centre has asked states to allow e-commerce services to operate during the 21-day lockdown period, there are several disruptions being faced by the companies, especially the startups, while providing services to customers like door-step delivery.

K Ganesh, promoter of online platforms like BigBasket, FreshMenu and Portea Medical, said 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 done absolutely 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,” Mr Ganesh told NDTV.

“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 up people. In Kerala, one of our health workers going to service a patient was arrested,” he said.

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“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,” Mr Ganesh added.

The statement was echoed by online grocery retailer Grofers and meat delivery platform FreshToHome, which said they were facing obstructions in delivering from local authorities who were enforcing the coronavirus lockdown indiscriminately.

Addressing the issues, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant told CNBC-TV18 that he personally intervened to make sure Grofers’ operations were up and running and ensured that their services resumed.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also announced yesterday that curfew e-pass will be issued to ensure disruption-free workflow of essential services.

Taking to Twitter, Gurgaon and Noida Police assured smooth movement on streets for those who fall under essential services category. In Bengaluru, the police commissioner is set to meet all related stakeholders.

Despite several requests and measures being taken by both central and state governments, people are still panic-buying.

Minutes after the announcement of 21-day nationwide lockdown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, grocery store shelves were wiped out.

(Inputs from NDTV)

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