In Kolkata, the employees of Zomato food delivering app refused to deliver food containing either beef or pork on Sunday (August 11) and said they planned to go on an indefinite strike. They took to the streets of the West Bengal capital shouting “Zomato ki dadagiri nahi chalegi (Zomato’s bullying is unacceptable)”.
The striking employees have explained that Hindu agents had declared themselves uncomfortable handling food with beef, while Muslim riders said they did not want to deliver food containing pork.
“The company is not listening to our demands and forcing us to deliver beef and pork against our will. Hindus have a problem is delivering beef while Muslims do not want to deliver pork. We are not ready to deliver such things on any condition. We are forced to deliver such things,” Mausin Akhtar, an employee, told media personnel.
“They are playing with our religious sentiments. We, the Hindus, were asked to deliver beef while in coming days our Muslims brothers will be asked to deliver pork. This is not acceptable,” another employee claimed.
A clarification has been issued by Zomato after employees threatened strike. “In a country as diverse as India, it is impossible to ensure that vegetarian and non-vegetarian preferences are factored into delivery logistics. Delivery partners are unequivocally made to understand the practical nature of the job as they choose to enter the workforce. All our partners understand this fully. There is a small group of partners in Howrah who’ve raised concerns & we’re looking to resolve the issue,” the food delivery platform was quoted as saying by ANI.
The call to strike comes amid increasing polarization in the state that peaked during the recently held election in which the BJP made substantial inroads.
In 2017, after the BJP-led government at the centre announced a nationwide ban on the slaughter of cows, the consumption of beef became a controversial topic. BJP-ruled states believe in the protection of cows and are opposed to the consumption of beef.
However, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had labelled the ban “undemocratic” and “unconstitutional” and Bengal remains one of the only prominent states in which neither the slaughter of cow nor consumption of beef is illegal.
However, this could change with the BJP’s growing influence in the state. In the recent Lok Sabha polls, Bengal witnessed a bitter turf war between Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and the BJP. The Trinamool coming off second-best and the BJP went from two seats in 2014 to eighteen, prompting a state BJP leader to claim the Mamata Banerjee’s government would not survive till 2021 polls.
In June, the organizers of a beef festival in Kolkata were forced to call it off after a barrage of threatening calls and hate messages.
Since the results of the national election, there have been several violent clashes between cattle vigilantes, or ‘gau rakshaks’, and Muslims and minority community members over the alleged sale, transportation and consumption of beef.
In May, a woman was among three people thrashed in Madhya Pradesh for allegedly carrying beef. The preceding month, in Assam, a man was arrested for allegedly assaulting and force-feeding pork to a Muslim beef seller.
The action by Zomato employees in Kolkata comes a week after a Zomato user in Madhya Pradesh cancelled his order because the man delivering his meal was a “non-Hindu”, trigg