By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, March 18 (IANS) When he pressed the doorbell of an apartment, Mohammed Rizwan was hoping to successfully complete another food delivery but he was unaware of the lurking danger.
As soon as the bell rang, a ferocious pet dog of the house owner came charging at him. Frightened over this, the delivery boy ran and when the German Shepherd continued chasing him, he jumped off the third floor to save himself.
The 23-year-old suffered critical injuries and succumbed at a hospital three days later.
The horrific incident, that took place on January 11 at an apartment in upscale Banjara Hills in Hyderabad, highlights the risks faced by delivery boys. The tragic death of the young man plunged his family into a crisis. With no financial assistance from the food delivery app, Rizwan’s family stares at an uncertain future.
Rizwan was the sole breadwinner of the family which lives in a rented house at Sriramnagar in the Yousufguda locality.
After B.Com first year, he had discontinued the education to take care of his ailing father and mitigate the family’s financial stress. Working from noon to night, he used to earn about Rs 500 to Rs 700 a day.
Police booked the dog owner N. Shobana under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 304-A (causing death by negligence), 289 (negligent conduct concerning animals) and 336 (endangering life or personal safety of others).
As Rizwan was filling in for his elder brother Mohammed Khaja on the fateful day, the family feared that it may not receive any compensation from the food delivery aggregator. The family opted for an out-of-court settlement with the dog owner for Rs 5 lakh. Under the settlement, Rizwan’s family withdrew the police case against the pet owner.
Rizwan, who had lost his mother five years ago, was taking care of his father, who had stopped working as a waiter at functions due to ill-health. The youngster discontinued his education and started delivering food for Swiggy as well as Zomato about three years ago.
Youngest of the four brothers, Rizwan was working 8-10 hours daily to make ends meet. According to Khaja, Rizwan’s ID with Swiggy was blocked for some reasons and he was sometimes filling in for him.
Rizwan’s family and friends remember him as a jovial boy. “He was passionate about cricket and had won several medals in various tournaments in the area,” said Khaja. Since Rizwan was not a registered delivery partner with Swiggy, his family is not likely to receive any assistance. Had he been a registered delivery partner, the food aggregator would have paid his family Rs 10 lakh.
Shaik Salauddin, the founder-president of Telangana Gig and Platform Workers’ Union (TGPWU), said the family deserved to be paid about Rs 22 lakh by the company as per the Workmen Compensation Act. He said the company should pay the compensation as Rizwan was delivering its orders.
Salauddin has long been raising his voice for the rights of delivery executives. He has been demanding better wages and improvement in working conditions.
The TGPWU leader has been calling up on food aggregators to do away with the time limit for delivery. “This is putting pressure on delivery boys as not completing the delivery within the deadline will result in a drop in their ratings. The companies are even deactivating the app-based IDs of delivery boys,” he said.
Salauddin pointed out that in order to meet the deadline the delivery boys are resorting to rash driving of their bikes resulting in accidents. Delivery boys are also facing challans from traffic police for violating traffic rules.