Hyderabad lockdown: Swiggy and Zomato are back, but options limited

Hyderabad: A day after the city police’s unwarranted crackdown on food and e-commerce delivery executives, major players like Swiggy and Zomato were back in service, albeit with limited options. Unlike usually, when one is spoilt for choice to order in food, depending on one’s location, the options on Sunday were limited to about a dozens restaurants which began functioning after what transpired on Saturday during the lockdown hours.

Both Swiggy and Zomato by Sunday evening seemed to be more or less functioning, just that the options were really limited. A delivery boy from Swiggy, who did not want to be quoted, told Saisat.com earlier in the day that they would take orders only until 9 a.m. and then finish deliveries by 10 a.m. before the lockdown restrictions are in place. However, it seems like the companies have sorted out the issue with the police.

“As of now, our main branch is not operational throughout the day as we don’t have people. But the Kukatpally branch has been shut down by cops. Even the Hitech City branch has been closed as the Cyberabad police are giving us a hard time. Most of the restaurants in the Cyberabad police limits are shut even now,” said the owner of a restaurant chain from Hyderabad. He indicated that things are still not fully clear about food delivery.

In fact, state Director General of Police M. Mahender Reddy had even tweeted on Sunday morning that he directed the heads of the Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda police commissionerates to ensure a seamless supply of essentials including food deliveries. The issue was also taken up by state home minister Mahmood Ali and state IT minister KT Rama Rao, after a huge public backlash against the police’s high-handedness. In Telangana, the current lockdown is in place till the end of the month. It was extended by the state government few days ago.

In Telangana, the public can venture out only between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. to buy essentials and other items, as all businesses are allowed to be open during those times. Post that, only medical stores and online food deliveries were working. The police department in the city had also set up check posts across the city, but the screening of who was out post 10 a.m. was not very tight. Few days ago, it is learnt, that chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao was unhappy with things and asked the police to increase its vigilance.

However, what happened on Saturday, or May 22, was absolute madness. While the police has every right to fine or even perhaps arrest lockdown violators, the cops instead however began beating up people, and specifically stopped all delivery boys at check posts. This, in spite of the state government’s own G.O. on the lockdown specifically allowing e-commerce and food delivery boys to function. Across the city, the police had lined up hundreds of delivery executives, seized their vehicles, and even fined many.

That left many incensed, given that several citizens, especially those suffering from COVID-19, rely on Swiggy and Zomato to order in food everyday. Congress leader and AICC member Aamer Javeed also demanded an apology from the cops. “The police and government owe an apology to the delivery executives who were beaten up. Citizens are not punching bags. Further, the government ought to return the money collected as fines. This is bare minimum. #Hyderabad #Telangana #hyderabadlockdown,” his tweet stated.

When contacted, a spokesperson from Swiggy said, “We’re operational with limited options for food and other essential deliveries basis local directives.” On Saturday, after the police’s crackdown on lockdown violators, a total of 5680 cases were booked against violators in the Hyderabad police’s jurisdiction. SImilarly, under the Cyberabad police limits, which covers most of the Hitec City area, 2115 cases were booked by the cops against people for various violations.