Delhi cab rape: Driver still at large, probe exposes glaring flaws by Uber
Uber, which ties up with vehicles that already have taxi permits, is coming in for criticism by police officials
Contrary to earlier reports that the driver responsible for raping a 27-year-old executive in New Delhi had been arrested in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, it now transpires that the man is still at large.
According to reports, Delhi police have said that they have arrested several family members of the driver, identified as Shiv Kumar Yadav, from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. Police have added that they are close to cracking the case. According to NDTV, they have announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh for anyone with information pertaining to the case.
Meanwhile Uber, which ties up with vehicles that already have taxi permits, is coming in for criticism by police officials. They are asking how it was so easy for the driver to simply switch off his phone, rape a woman, ditch the device and make a getaway while the company was completely unaware. The Times Now media channel is reporting that Uber had no idea about the incident, or even that the driver was missing, for hours.
The company is presumed to run background checks on vehicle owners and drivers, but in this case, the driver had reportedly registered for the service under a false name.
Meanwhile the company has released the following statement:
We became aware of the incident this morning. Safety is Uber’s highest priority and we take situations like this very seriously. We are working with the police as they investigate, and will assist them in any way we can to determine what happened. It is also our policy to immediately suspend a driver’s account following allegations of a serious incident, which we have done. In India, we work with licensed driver-partners to provide a safe transportation option, with layers of safeguards such as driver and vehicle information, and ETA-sharing to ensure there is accountability and traceability of all trips that occur on the Uber platform.
The Delhi police is reportedly planning to question the top management of the company on Monday.
The incident took place at around 9:30 pm when the woman, who works for a finance company in Gurgaon, was headed back to her home in north Delhi's Inderlok area.
According to a detailed report in the Times of India, the woman had been returning from a party and had fallen asleep in the cab. She had woken up to find the driver in the backseat of the car, molesting her.
The report quotes from her statement as follows:
"I tried to push him away and looked around to find the car at a desolate spot. He slapped me a few times and scratched me on the face and neck during the scuffle. When I tried to scream, he pressed my mouth and threatened to kill me. He said "sariya ghusa doonga pet mein agar chillayi toh" (I will thrust an iron rod into your stomach if you scream). I pleaded with him not to harm me".
The report adds that after raping her, the driver had then taken away her phone. But had given it back to her, after giving her a missed call and telling her that he now had her details and would kill her if she told anyone.
Uber, which has been aggressively expanding in India over the last few months, announced on Thursday, that it had raised another $1.2 billion in funding and added that it was looking to aggressively expand in Asia.
It has already announced a number of aggressive customer pulling tactics like offering five free rides for any customers using its Paytm wallet service up to Rs 300
The latest incident however is likely to adversely impact the company.
Uber has been pressing its credentials as a safer alternative for women in Indian cities like New Delhi. If all it takes to compromise that safety is the mere deletion of a smartphone app however, that safety is called into question.
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