NEW DELHI — It says a lot about the state of women's security in India when an auto driver, who ensured that his woman passenger reached her destination safely, is being hailed as a hero in social media.
Last week, after an hour of searching for a mode of transport that would take her 38 kms from Bangalore city to Kanakpura Road, Ranjana Shanker booked an Ola Auto, late at night.
In a Facebook post, that has gone viral now, Shanker said that the auto driver, Ghasamfar Ali K, proved to be "a true gentleman" who knows how to make a woman feel safe.
Using Google Maps, Shanker asked the auto driver to take the simplest route. Although the driver followed her instructions, he also warned her that the said route would be lowly-lit and deserted. "I told Madam that the road is completely empty, so it's best to avoid it. I told her we should take the main road," Ali told HuffPost.
Shanker decided to trust the driver. 'An auto-ride in complete darkness with a stranger in a city that's not my home, with only my phone to keep me connected and provide me light,' she wrote in her Facebook post.
However, Ali assured a nervous Shanker that she will reach safely.
When they reached the destination, the auto driver asked Shanker if someone's picking her up from there as the road was empty and dark. When Shanker said that her friend will be reaching in 5 minutes, the driver asked her if he can wait till he arrives.
"I told Madam that I will wait for her friend to arrive if she doesn't have any problem with that," he said. Ali said he didn't want to leave her alone and so waited with the young woman for nearly 30 minutes before her friend arrived.
He then crossed the road with Shanker and ensured she got in safe in the friend's car.
"What overwhelmed me was not how well he did his job, but that he was a decent human being who knew that safety is a single woman traveller's biggest concern. Thank you Ghasamfar Ali. Ola, you should be proud to have him drive for you," Shanker wrote in her Facebook post.
Ali, 33, who lives with wife and his 3 year old son at JP Nagar said that he never leaves a woman passenger alone at night. "If someone wants a drop at night, I wait for the passenger to enter the house before I leave that spot," he said.
Bringing up the recent incidents where Ola drivers have allegedly harassed women passengers, he said, "The times are not safe for women. But, I'll do my best to protect them."