Will the Arrest of the Man Who Refused to Take Parcel from a Muslim Delivery Boy Serve as a Lesson for Rest of India?


Will the Arrest of the Man Who Refused to Take Parcel from a Muslim Delivery Boy Serve as a Lesson for Rest of India?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

When the coronavirus first reared its ugly head in Maharashtra and the state government issued a lockdown in accordance with the rest of the country, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray addressed the population and asked them to refrain from sowing and spreading communal discord. In a viral video from earlier this week, it has become clear that CM Thackeray’s request – despite the praise and condemnation it received from both sides of the aisle – has fallen on deaf ears. Maharashtra police arrested a man in Mira Road, on the outskirts of Mumbai, after he refused to accept a delivery of groceries because the delivery boy was Muslim.

Barkat Usman Patel, working with Grofers, stated that he was carrying out his daily work of ferrying orders to customers when he visited the building of the accused. He was going to hand over the goods to Supriya Chaturvedi, when her father Gajanan showed up and demanded to know the delivery boy’s name. Upon learning that he was Muslim, the man refused to accept the goods. The ensuing interaction was filmed by Patel, who captured the offender agreeing to the fact that he was refusing the goods based on the delivery boy’s religious identity on camera.

That evening an FIR was filed against the accused in Kashimira Police Station in Mira Road. Senior Inspector Sanjay Hajare said that the accused was found at the same address and identified from the video provided, according to Indian Express. Gajanan Chaturvedi was reportedly booked under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, for committing a deliberate or malicious act with the intention of outraging Patel’s religious feelings and beliefs.

A video of Patel narrating his experience with his bigoted customer has been doing the rounds of social media. Patel described the incident as a one-off, saying most customers have acknowledged the essential service delivery boys like him are providing during the lockdown. It’s unfortunate that workers like Patel have to suffer because of the ingrained bigotry of those who wish to see a pandemic through a communal lens. The arrest of this man should serve as a wake-up call for them.