BENGALURU: A 28-year-old Ola cab driver has been arrested for allegedly molesting a 26-year-old Mumbai-bound architect who was travelling in his vehicle to Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) in the wee hours of June 1.
The cab driver, V Arun, a resident of Chikkabanavara, who was arrested within hours of the woman emailing her complaint to the police commissioner on reaching Mumbai, has confessed to his crime. The architect, who is from Mangaluru and has been working in Benglauru since July 2017, is flying back to the city and will identify the accused on Wednesday, police said.
The woman boarded the cab at her PG accommodation in Jeevan Bima Nagar around 1am and was headed to the airport, where she was to board a flight to Mumbai.
“She was wearing jeans and T-shirt and dozed off once she got into the cab. I wanted to click some pictures of her by removing her T-shirt and parked the car at a desolate place on the outskirts of Kodihalli,” Arun, who has been working with Ola for a year and is father of two minor girls, said.
Arun tried to strip the victim after locking the doors and windows of the car. “She woke up and violently resisted my advances. I threatened her saying that if she raised an alarm, I’d call my friends and get her gang-raped. I snatched her mobile phone, took some pictures of her and threatened her that I’d upload them on social media and defame her,” police quoted Arun as saying.
Using WhatsApp, Arun transferred her pictures to his mobile phone. The woman’s ordeal lasted for nearly an hour.
“After much pleading, he returned my mobile phone and dropped me at the airport. I reached Mumbai and am emai ling the complaint to the Bengaluru city police commissioner,” the woman said in her complaint.
The incident has raised serious concerns about safety practices, like police verification, put in place by cab aggregators.
Cops investigating the case expressed dismay over Ola’s approach, saying the company is delaying submission of documents related to Arun’s police verification.
“We arrested the accused on June 1 itself and the matter was brought to the notice of Ola management. It’s June 5 already, but the verification documents have still not reached us,” a police officer said.
However, additional commissioner of police, east, Seemanth Kumar Singh told TOI that Ola had communicated with him and that the aggregator will furnish the documents soon. “The documents will reach us soon. As of now, the accused does not seem to have any criminal antecedent. However, we need to question him further,” he said.
Based on the victim’s email, which has been accepted as her statement, JB Nagar police have registered a criminal case under Indian Penal Code sections 354B (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), 354C (voyeurism), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 307 (attempt to murder), 387 (putting person in fear of death) and 342 (wrongful confinement).
“We regret the unfortunate experience the customer had during the ride. We have zero tolerance for such incidents and the driver has been blacklisted from the platform as an immediate action upon receiving the complaint. Safety of customers is our top priority and we are extending our full support to the police authorities in their investigation,” read a statement released by Ola.
“The driver-partner in question holds a valid police verification check which confirms no criminal cases have been recorded against him. This is a mandatory process for all driver-partners who operate on our platform,” added a spokesperson from Ola.