Ola driver threatens woman passenger with physical harm

She was made to run from one police station to another to file a complaint.

July 13, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 07:50 am IST - CHENNAI:

While app-based cab services are the preferred mode of transport for women commuting late in the evening, Vilasini Ramani’s unpleasant experience on Sunday night has once again raised serious concerns about the safety of women in Chennai.

Recalling the traumatic experience, Ms. Ramani, a city-based publisher, said her fiancé had booked an Ola cab for her from Thiruvanmiyur to Valasaravakkam on Sunday night. “The driver was going pretty fast and I asked him twice to slow down. He shouted back saying he could not slow down as he had to complete a certain number of trips before a stipulated time and if I had a problem with his driving, I should get down,” she said.

Threatened to hurt her

Fearing for her safety, Ms Ramani got out of the vehicle near the Anna University campus and tried to hail an auto. “The cab driver however, refused to leave and sat inside his vehicle at the same spot. He got down after a few minutes and demanded that I pay him. When I refused to pay stating that he had asked me to get down and had not dropped me at my destination, he abused me and threatened to slit my throat,” she said.

She then managed to hail an auto and got into it, fearing that the cab driver would follow her. “The cab driver still hadn’t left and when I told him that I would go to the police while I was seated in my auto, he made a few inappropriate gestures and refused to apologise,” she alleged.

Ms. Ramani said as there were no police patrol vehicles in the area, she went to Ramapuram where she complained to police officers at a traffic outpost there. “They heard me out but directed me to go to the Nandambakkam police station. When I went there, the officers said the incident had happened in the Guindy jurisdiction and that I should go back there,” she said.

Distressed at the events and fearing that the cab driver would follow her, Ms Ramani refused to return to Guindy and demanded that a policeman accompany her to her house in Valasaravakkam.

Questioning why she was asked to go to different police stations after 10 p.m. in the night when she was still in danger of being followed, Ms. Ramani said the police should have taken her complaint on the spot.

“I was already scared about the cab driver coming after me and was alone in an auto. What sense does it make to ask me to go back from Nandambakkam to Guindy in the night?” she questioned.

Social media response

Ms Ramani shared the whole incident in a Facebook Post which had over 1,000 shares by Tuesday evening. Many people who had shared the post on social media raised concerns about the safety of women in the city and how they could scrutinise cab drivers.

Since the cab had been booked from her fiance’s phone, Ms. Ramani said that he had sent them a mail registering a complaint and he had only received an automated response from the cab company.

Following this, she received a call from a customer service executive of the company.

‘No action yet’

“When I asked them what action would be taken against the driver, they said that they would re-orient him for a week and then let him join work again while keeping him under observation. For someone who threatened to harm a woman and abused her, there should be stricter action taken,” she said.

She said that she again received a call from the cab company on Tuesday evening where they promised strict action against the driver.

“I am however, yet to get a proper response on record from them specifically addressing the issue,” she added.

A senior official of the Chennai City Police said the incident of the local police failing to take a complaint would be looked in to and action would be taken against them if there had been a lapse. He also informed that police officers would be sensitised, especially to avoid making complainants run from pillar to post by citing such trivial reasons.

( with R. Srikanth )

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