By Express News Service

COIMBATORE: Police have barred delivery personnel of app-based food aggregators from waiting in a stretch of RS Puram, on the grounds that residents lodged complaints fearing for their safety.

Scores of delivery executives working for app-based companies hang around a restaurant on VOC Street in West Sambantham road in RS Puram. Since the road has several trees, they park their vehicles and wait for their orders to get ready. Recently, police told them not to wait there and warned them of action if they violate the instructions.

Food delivery workers are worried that the police are portraying them as anti-social elements. “We understand that so many of us gathering at one place may cause inconvenience to residents of the area. But for that the police are enforcing such control, portraying us as anti-social elements. If anybody is found guilty, they should be punished. Otherwise, there is no provision to ban a common man to stand in a public place, ”said M Mohanasundaram, a food delivery person.

Mohanasundaram, who is working in a private firm, said the gig job helps him to support the family. “We should not be treated like anti-socials During the pandemic, we delivered food to hundreds of people in need. If police suspect our activities they can strengthen their surveillance and register cases against violators. Banning our presence is not acceptable and it should be revoked, ”he added.

They add that, because of the ban, they avoid taking orders from the area. “If this ban is extended to other areas, we will have to quit the job. We wait in an area where we get more orders. We do not know why we are not allowed to stand in public places. If any one of us committed a crime, police have the power to ban us but we are not involved in any such activities, how can they ban us, ”asked K Suresh, a food delivery person.

Staff in the restaurant said, during the lockdown, more orders were received from food distributors and delivery persons used to wait by the road. “A few residents did not like this and lodged a police complaint, and they banned the delivery personnel. We don’t know if they were involved in any illegal activity. “

Unless 144 of CrPC is imposed, police cannot prohibit public gatherings. Only if there is a formal complaint, can the police register a case and take action against an individual. They cannot act like this in general without complaint, said A Pandiarajan, an advocate.

A senior advocate C Gnanabharathi said it is a constitutionally wrong practice. Everyone should remember their work during the pandemic, before portraying them as anti-social elements. If there is any complaint, it should be dealt with individually, he added.

Inspector of police S Anandajothi said no criminal activity has been reported against the delivery personnel so far. “We imposed the ban following complaints by residents. It also helps us to prevent illegal activities in residential areas. If they want to take food orders, they should set up a separate office and wait there, not in a public place, ”she said.

Commissioner of Police Pradip Kumar said he will look into the issue.

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