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They said this throwing away the food — “We don’t eat food touched by Dalits”; Dalit delivery boy

Uttar Pradesh— Atrocities against Dalits are being continuously reported from various states in India, including from several districts of UP. In Lucknow, on the night of June 18, an upper [oppressor]-caste person allegedly refused to accept food from a Zomato delivery boy delivering the order to the customer. It is claimed that when the customer noticed the word “Rawat” next to the name [of the delivery boy], they threw away the ordered food, saying, “We do not eat food touched by the hands of Dalits”. When the delivery boy protested against this, they hurled casteist abuses at him, about a dozen people beat him up and also spat on his face. Based on the written complaint submitted by the delivery boy, the police have registered a case against two named persons and 12 other people. However, the police have stated that the matter involved only physical assault.

What is the whole matter about?

Vineet Rawat, who lives in the Qila Mohammadiarea of the neighborhood of Ashiyana in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, is a delivery boy with Zomato. On the night of Saturday, June 18, he was sent to deliver an order to a customer named Ajay Singh, also a resident of Ashiyana. Vineet delivered the food, but he alleged that “As soon as I told my name, Vineet Rawat, to customer Ajay Singh, he became furious. First, he threw away the packet of food, saying that they would not eat food touched by Dalits. After that, he spits on my face. When I protested, Ajay and his family members all together beat me up. I called up the police on 112.”

FIR lodged at the police station with lawyer’s help

The police said that on hearing about the incident from Vineet, they reached the spot and pacified both parties. The police attempted to take Vineet to the police station, but he refused to go with them at that time. On Sunday, he went with a lawyer and lodged an FIR [first information report]. At present, a case has been registered and is being investigated. Both parties will be questioned in detail and the CCTV installed near the spot will also be examined.

Inspector Deepak Pandey of Ashiyana said that when Vipin arrived on Saturday night with the order, Ajay was just leaving to drop a friend somewhere. Ajay told them that Vineet arrived just as he was leaving. Vineet asked him about the whereabouts of his own house. Ajay had been eating paan masala, and he spat out the masala in order to give directions to Vineet. Some of his spit fell on Vineet. Vineet reacted by abusing him. Following which, Ajay and his family members beat up Vineet.

Zomato’s Ritesh Mishra told us, “Such incidents are handled by our ‘threat off team’. They contact the police in such cases so the matter is given priority, and they take special care that the victimized delivery boy is ensured proper justice.”

Clarification made by the accused

Talking to The Mooknayak about the incident, the accused Ajay Singh Gangwar rubbished the allegations of the delivery boy, “Since the lockdown, I often order things for the children from Zomato and Swiggy. On Saturday too, I ordered momos for the kids. If I ordered food based on caste and religion, I would probably never put an order online. Where is the food being cooked? Who is cooking it? This information is never available. I order something for the children most Saturdays and Sundays. The delivery boy is unnecessarily making false allegations.”

Ajay further explains in reference to the incident, “I was not at home. My brother was parking the car in the driveway of the house, and while doing that he must have spat out the masala and some bits may have accidentally dropped [on Vineet]. He spoke to my brother using abusive words. I too had returned home. Seeing the commotion outside the house, I wanted to know what was going on and the matter escalated. He called out abuses. There was a little scuffle alongside protesting but no one beat him. He called the police on 112. He continued to claim that he had been spat on. But when I asked him in the presence of police to show the spots, he couldn’t do it. The police went away. The next day the delivery boy lodged an FIR on the basis of false allegations.”

Ajay continued, “Madhuri Rawat has been cooking food in my house for almost six years, but we’ve never discriminated against her on the basis of caste. We are educated, people. It is surprising that just a month ago, the ayah [maid] we hired to look after the children also comes from a scheduled tribe. Her name is Aarti Rawat. We have never behaved in an inhuman manner with all of them.”

“Investigation is ongoing, we haven’t reached any conclusion”: Police

SM Qasim Abidi, former ADCP, Lucknow Police, commented as follows on the matter, “Our investigation is still going on. The accused party has also given sufficient evidence in its favor. We are also checking the CCTV recording, etc. There is Dalit staff in the house and office of the accused. At present, we are interrogating the matter from every aspect.”

यहां भी हिन्दी में पढ़ें: “हम दलितों का छुआ नहीं खाते हैं” — कहकर खाना फेंका, दलित डिलीवरी ब्वॉय की पिटाई कर मुंह पर थूका

[Story Translated By Lotika Singha]

Satya Prakash Bharti
Satya Prakash Bharti
Satya Prakash Bharti, Journalist The Mooknayak

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