In yet another incident involving app-based taxi services, a woman in Bengaluru was harassed by the driver of an Ola cab she had booked on Monday night. The incident came to light after the woman, a lawyer who lives in the city, made a complaint on Ola's social media page.
According to her statement, she had booked a cab from Vittal Mallya Road to Hebbal. The driver, who picked her up, took a different, though not unusual, the route.
"The ride started out as any would — non intrusive and the cabbie minding the roads," the woman wrote. "However, once we reached the Hebbal flyover the cabbie turned left (the route that leads to ORR) instead of going straight toward Kodigehalli. This didn't set off any red flags as it's common to take the ORR route and turn toward Kempapura near nagwara."
At this point, however, he started asking her personal questions: 'Do you drink?' 'Are you a housewife? How come you are out so late?' He reportedly said he was 25 and that the woman can't be much older. Shortly after, when he missed two turns, the woman sent her mother, who was out of town, and a friend the cab details.
This was, however, only part of her ordeal.
Closer to her home, the driver stopped the car, locked her in and went out to buy cigarettes. When he returned, he gave one to her and asked her to smoke it completely. The woman kept the cigarette in her hand and gave him directions to her place. Once they reached the destination, the driver forced her to give him a five-star rating and asked for her number.
"He says something in Kannada that I only partially understood to mean that I should call him everytime around this hour if I want a cab," she wrote, "I entered a number that belonged to me till a few months ago and a fake name and think that's the end of it."
But it wasn't.
The next day, the woman received a message from him on WhatsApp to the number she had booked the cab from.
"I'm a lawyer but I realised that being a woman is dangerous even in a city that's been my home for over 20 years if you dare travel after 9PM no matter what your profession is," she concluded. "Trust that I'll never use an Ola cab again after this incident. It's the worst kind of fear to think one will never reach home and something horrendous will take place."
Ola has promised to suspend the driver, while the police got in touch with her after her Facebook post and recorded her statement. The woman had initially not filed a formal complaint as she was afraid that the driver knew where she lived.
Issues of safety for users of Ola and Uber cabs have been flagged persistently over the months. In July, a Delhi woman caught her Ola driver filming her in the car, weeks after another incident in Kolkata where an Uber cab driver threatened to rape his passenger.
Also on HuffPost: