Two years ago, Bharati Veerath became the first woman in India to partner with cab aggregator Uber, and left a lasting impression on thousands of passengers with her positive attitude to life.
But in a tragic end to a tale of inspiration, Ms. Veerath (40) was found dead under mysterious circumstances in her Sanjay Nagar residence on Monday.
While neighbours remember her for her cheerful disposition, close friends and her sister say that Ms. Veerath had been battling depression. Her sister, Sarala, who hails from Prakasam district in Andhra Pradesh, told the police that her depression had been triggered by the death of her parents a few years ago.
While the police suspect it could be a case of suicide, the absence of a suicide note has led them to probe all possibilities.
LGBT activists remember her as a woman who wasn’t afraid to fight conventional social mores. “She was a brave woman who fought many odds to become a taxi driver,” said Manohar Elavarthi, member of Sangama, a Bengaluru-based NGO for the LGBT community where Ms. Veerath was a volunteer prior to becoming a taxi driver.
A native of Andhra Pradesh, Ms. Veerath had been living in Bengaluru for many years. News of her success as a driver-partner had spread far and wide, and banks were willing to offer loans to her to purchase a new vehicle.
Uber acknowledged the loss of one of its most well-loved drivers. “We are shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic death of Bharati Veerath. She was an inspiration to many driver partners and riders,” an Uber spokesperson said.