Two Months On, Food Delivery Man Who Won Hearts By Risking Job For Refusing To Deliver Meat In Temple Complex Is Settled In New Job, Says He Is Satisfied
Exactly two months have passed since a food delivery man in New Delhi became a social media sensation for refusing to deliver meat inside the complex of a temple.
Sachin Panchal, who is in his early 30s, lost his job in March with a major food service aggregator after his on-the-spot decision to not deliver meat inside the temple premises.
The meat dish was ordered by a shop owner who sells fried snacks inside the temple complex.
Swarajya checked on Panchal this week. He said he got a job soon after the incident, and has become something of a local celebrity. Panchal has been invited as chief guest at several events, where he has been felicitated for his “work for dharma”, besides being interviewed by more than a dozen news channels.
We met Panchal at his rented two-room house in Delhi’s Karol Bagh, where he lives with his wife and two school-going children.
He said that after the incident in March, he was approached by a Gujarat-based start-up named Madhuras to kickstart their app-based food delivery business in Delhi. Panchal, who was earlier associated with Swiggy, took up the offer.
Panchal told Swarajya, “The offer matched my earlier income. I was satisfied with it because when I risked my job for my religious stand, I did not expect to be re-employed so soon."
Co-founder of Madhuras, Jay Shah, told Swarajya that his start-up of delivering daily meals to homes and offices was functional in Gandhinagar and Surat cities of Gujarat, but the team had been looking to extend operations in Delhi for some time.
“When we heard Sachin’s story, we thought we had found just the guy we needed,” said Shah. “Sachin is really great at what he is doing,” he added.
The app is available on Google Play Store, Shah said.
The incident dates to 28 February, when Panchal ran into a disagreement with a customer who wanted him to deliver meat korma inside the premises of Marghat Baba Hanuman temple in Kashmere Gate area. Panchal told the customer that doing so was against his religious beliefs.
When the customer threatened him with a complaint, Panchal recorded videos on the spot explaining his stand, hoping to show it to his employers as justification for his action. Watch the videos here.
He was temporarily suspended from Swiggy for an inquiry into the complaint against him, after which Panchal disassociated from the company. This meant that he was promptly rendered jobless.
In the meantime, Panchal’s friends had shared his video statements on social media. To Panchal's surprise, the videos became viral and soon caught media attention.
The same week his story was published by various news channels. Panchal was invited by the temple management and felicitated amid a large gathering with chants of Jai Shri Ram.
A day later, Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former MLA Kapil Sharma invited him as chief guest at an event in Uttam Nagar organised by a group named Hindu Ecosystem. Panchal was felicitated and was given a chance to address hundreds of his supporters.
Panchal beams, “Due to all that, my children think of me as a hero. As a father, it’s a proud feeling.”
He hugged his children and said that after he deactivated his work ID at Swiggy and became non-earning the very next day, the kids told him that he had done the right thing.
“The children did not make any demands in the coming days. They ate whatever was cooked and constantly told me they did not need anything. It was very touching," he said, and added, "My wife, too, told me that she would work part-time if needed, but I had taken the right decision."
Panchal said he is quite a known figure locally. Some love him, others envy him, he said.
"A lot of people greet me when I pass through the streets. They did not know of my existence earlier," he smiles, but adds with a tinge of sadness that some others envy him and taunt him if he accidentally fails to greet them.
After he lost his employment, a social welfare organisation gave him a grant of Rs 1.5 lakh. Panchal says that he saved the money for a rainy day.
Panchal, however, laments that several people in his colony have developed a wrong impression that he received crores of rupees in grant. "They taunt me saying I have no need to work with crores of rupees kept in my bank account. No matter how many times I tell them it's false, they dismiss me."
"I sometimes fear that this wrong impression may bring me trouble," he said.
Panchal has become a regular visitor to the temple where the incident happened. He often volunteers for sewa work at the temple, and his Instagram account features several videos of his visits to the temple.
“I believe Balaji hand-picked me to end a bad practice at his temple. I have become very attached to his murti,” he told Swarajya.
The shop owner who he had run into an argument with, continues to do brisk business at the same place. For a week, the shop was closed in March after activists of a Hindu organisation protested outside it, but it reopened.
When asked, Panchal said he did not want to comment on that.
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