Uppercaste men told me they would not take meal from Dalits: Zomato delivery partner who faces casteism

Dalit Zomato delivery partner was spat on and beaten in Lucknow. Image Souce: Deccan Herald 

On 18 June, a Zomato customer refused to collect the food from a Zomato delivery partner after learning he belonged to a Dalit community in Luncknow’s Ashiana locality. The customer allegedly spat in the face and ruthlessly beat up the delivery partner afterwards.

The Zomato delivery agent belonged to the Pasi community, considered a Dalit in parts of Uttar Pradesh. 

What happened – “I had never faced such an incident in the past”?

On Saturday, the Zomato delivery partner – Vineet Kumar Rawat, delivered 17 meals successfully. But, in the evening, Rawat went to Sector H of Ashiana locality to provide a meal where he faced this brutal ordeal. After knocking on the door of Zomato customer – Ajay Singh, some residents refused to take the food from him as he belonged to a Scheduled Caste community. 

According to Rawat, the man who opened the door asked him about his name and caste. After learning Rawat’s name, the man allegedly spits tobacco on his face. 

The Zomato delivery partner recounted his entire ordeal in a police complaint and video. 

Rawat said, “The door was opened by Ajay’s brother, Abhay Singh, who hurled casteist slurs on learning that I belong to a Scheduled Caste community.” 

“Abhay refused to take the order and said we would not take the meal from the hand of Pasi (Scheduled Caste),” Rawat added.

Afterwards, Rawat asked the customer to cancel the order if they don’t want it while resisting being spat on and casteist slurs. However, some 10-12 unknown people came out of the customer’s home and started trashing the delivery partner.

Rawat was hit by sticks and rods.

As per the statement, Rawat says the people hit him with a stick on his head, but he didn’t suffer any injury as he wore a helmet.

However, in a viral video, the delivery partner showed bruises on his body. The people also confiscated Rawat’s bike.

The police rescued the delivery partner after he contacted the police control room. The police arrived, saved Rawat and helped him get his bike back from the accused. 

Rawat said, “I had never faced such an incident in the past.” He has been working as a delivery agent for the past four years now. 

Police on the matter 

The police have registered an FIR against Abhay Singh and 10-12 unknown people after the delivery partner’s complaint. 

The police have registered the FIR on the charges of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989 (Amendment 2015). Police also added other sections of the Indian Penal Code – Section 147 (the offence of rioting), Section 148 (rioting while armed with a deadly weapon), Section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), and Section 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace).

The cops are scanning the CCTV footage of the area to trace the accused.

Additional Commissioner (East) – Qasim Abidi confirmed that police had registered the case against the accused. 

Abidi stated, “The accused allegedly hurled casteist remarks and spat in the face of Rawat. The police will take stringent action against the culprits.”

Past Incident of Such Crimes 

It is worth mentioning that this is not the first case of caste, religion-based discrimination. A similar incident happened in 2019.

On July 30 – 2019, a Zomato user – Amit Sukhla from Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, tweeted that he cancelled a delivery as the delivery partner was “non-Hindu”.

The tweet read, “Just cancelled an order on @ZomatoIN they allocated a non hindu rider for my food they said they can’t change rider and can’t refund on cancellation I said you can’t force me to take a delivery I don’t want don’t refund just cancel.”

However, Zomato responded, “We are proud of the idea of India – and the diversity of our esteemed customers and partners. We aren’t sorry to lose any business that comes in the way of our values.”

Dalit Thinker’s take on the matter and data on atrocity against Dalits

A Dalit thinker and activist – Ram Kumar, told The Wire that attacks against Dalits have increased under the rightwing party – BJP.

Ram Kumar said, “Attacks on us have been increasing since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power. The party and its ideologue, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, see Ambedkar as a roadblock to the Hindu Rashtra. The Zomato agent’s incident is not new. Many such assaults are faced by Dalits in rural areas, but police register FIR in very few cases.”

According to Kumar, Government’s own data highlights the truth about the oppression of Dalits. In 2001, as per Kumar, the government informed parliament that around 1,39,045 cases had been registered pertaining to the atrocities against Dalits in various states of India. But, between 2018 and 2020, Uttar Pradesh recorded a total of 36,467 cases of crimes against Scheduled Castes.

According to the government data, the atrocities against Dalits are rising nationwide. 42,793 cases were reported in 2018, 45,961 reported in 2019, and 50,291 reported in 2020.

Kumar further says, “This is government data. However, many crimes against Dalits are not being registered. If we added that too, the figure would increase by 1.5 fold.”