Hyderabad, TELANGANA: On 21 October, Mudasir Omer, a 32-year-old delivery executive registered with the food delivery chain Swiggy, called up the company’s customer care service, hurt and insulted.
In a conversation recorded by the customer care centre, he said, “The customer is not ready to accept the order because he needs a Hindu delivery person. Hindu”.
The customer, Ajay Kumar, who was also on the conference call line, quipped, “Before taking my money you should have informed that there are no delivery persons… Musalmanon ka nahi chahiye bhai. Order cancel kardo. Mein bazar mein jaake launga”. (I do not want delivery from Muslims. Cancel the order. I will buy from the market).
The baffled customer care executive was left to apologise to both the customer and the delivery man. “Sir, anyone can be assigned delivery. We cannot do anything about this. Sorry for the inconvenience. I am cancelling the order,” he said.
To Omer, the executive said, “I apologise on his behalf. I can understand your situation.”
Omer closed the conversation with “I am a human being and so are you. He is bringing religion into food.”
Omer has now lodged a complaint with Shah Ali Banda police station in the city, accusing Kumar of spreading hatred in the name of religion. The police is yet to register the case.
“At Swiggy, we embrace diversity and respect different points of view. Every order is automatically assigned to delivery executives based on their location, availability, etc. and not based on individual preferences. As an organization, we do not discriminate between our partners and customers on any grounds,” the company told HuffPost India in a statement.
Ratings for ‘Hindu delivery person’
When Ajay Kumar, who lives in Aliabad in Hyderabad, placed an order for Chicken 65 from Grand Bawarchi, a popular restaurant in the city, he had added a caveat in the comments and instructions column.
“Very less spicy…and please select Hindu delivery person. All ratings will be based on this,” his comment read.
Swiggy, however, assigned the order to Omer, who reached Kumar’s home near Shah Ali Banda police station to deliver the snack. An argument ensued and Kumar refused to receive the order, following which Omer had to make an urgent call to the customer service centre to appraise them of the situation.
Omer told HuffPost India,“I had to pass on the information to the customer care centre because they had to know what was happening. The Swiggy delivery system follows GPS location. The order was assigned to me because I was the nearest to the restaurant”.
Swiggy has not responded to his complaint, he said.
Though Omer had lodged a complaint with the Hyderabad police on 22 October, the incident became public only after he called up a local politician, Amjadullah Khan, president of the regional party Majlis Bachao Tehreek, the next day.
The restaurant from where the customer purchased the food also belongs to a Muslim. Ajay Kumar did not have any problem ordering the food from Bawarchi but had refused delivery from a Muslim personAmjadullah Khan, president of the regional party Majlis Bachao Tehreek
Khan has issued a statement condemning the incident and has also asked Swiggy to lodge a complaint against Ajay Kumar for “creating rift between communities”.
He told HuffPost India, “The restaurant from where the customer purchased the food also belongs to a Muslim. Ajay Kumar did not have any problem ordering the food from Bawarchi but had refused delivery from a Muslim person”.
He insisted that the customer discriminated against the delivery executive on the basis of religion. “This is a human rights violation,” he said.
Omer, who has joined back on duty agrees that some penalty should be imposed on the customer because “in Hyderabad, incidents of communal hatred should not take place”.
Hyderabad is the Lok Sabha constituency of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul chief Asaduddin Owaisi. After it assumed power in 2014, the state government run by Telangana Rashtra Samithi, which counts AIMIM as an alliance partner, has proudly claimed that Hyderabad is free of communal clashes.
This is not the first instance of a food delivery app’s customer complaining about the religion of the person delivering food. In July, a Jabalpur-based man tweeted that he cancelled an order because the delivery person was a “Muslim fellow”, prompting Zomato founder Deepinder Goyal to say that he had no problem with losing “any business that comes in the way of our values”.