NEW DELHI: An Indian woman has said she warned Uber about the behaviour of one of its drivers 10 days before he allegedly raped a young female passenger in Delhi.
Nidhi Shah said she complained to the web-based taxi service after the driver stared at her and smiled “creepily” during a November 26 journey in the Indian capital.
“I took a cab with Shiv Kumar Yadav in Delhi on Nov 26th. Scares me beyond belief,” Shah tweeted.
“He was staring at me and smiling — made me feel quite uncomfortable.”
Shah told the NDTV news channel she felt she should report the driver to the company.
“I had a bad feeling about him,” she said.
US-based Uber has been banned from operating in Delhi after the passenger in her mid-20s accused Yadav, 32, of raping her when she fell asleep in his cab on Friday night.
it emerged that Yadav, who is now in custody, was working for the company while on bail on multiple charges including assault, robbery and rape.
Yadav was charged with molestation in 2003, with possessing a weapon without a licence in 2006 and with robbery and rape in 2013, deputy commissioner for north Delhi police Madhur Verma said.
Officials said earlier that a police certificate provided by the driver, which is supposed to detail any criminal convictions or pending charges, was a fake.
India has been struggling to overcome a reputation for sexual violence since the fatal gang-rape of a student in Delhi in December 2012.
That case sparked mass protests and drew international condemnation of India’s treatment of women.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh told parliament that 25,000 rape cases were registered across India in the first 11 months of this year, calling the figure a “national shame”.
Last year, 33,707 rape cases were registered, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, with just 27% resulting in a conviction.
But activists say many rapes go unreported in the nation of 1.2 billion people because of the stigma of sexual violence and a system that tends to put the blame on the victim.
“These figures mean nothing,” Sehba Farooqui of the All India Democratic Women’s Association told AFP.
“Cases are barely registered. Even if the woman gathers courage and goes to report a case, police are often reluctant to register her complaint.
“The figures that the government and police cite are a gross misrepresentation of actual numbers.”
The Uber passenger told police she dozed off and woke to find the car parked in a secluded place, where the driver assaulted and raped her, before dumping her near her home in north Delhi.
Shah tweeted the response from a customer services operator for the company, which named the driver and said the complaint had been passed on to the relevant team and would be investigated.
“A few of you have said that I should have reported Shiv Kumar Yadav further,” she tweeted. “Here’s the reality — being stared at creepily is SO common.”
Indian police have registered a case against Uber for “cheating” and summoned its officials for questioning over the alleged rape.
Uber has continued to operate in Delhi despite an order from city authorities banning it.
It also operates in 10 other Indian cities, but the federal government has issued an advisory to all states asking them to prohibit unregistered web-based taxi services such as Uber from operating.
Mumbai police spokesman, deputy commissioner Dhananjay Kulkarni, said the force was doing background checks on all cab drivers in the city, including those with private companies.
“We are checking the criminal history,” he told AFP, saying that it would take until the end of December.
“It’s a Herculean task,” he said.
Uber, a Silicon Valley startup, has hit problems around the world which threaten to put the brakes on its spectacular growth.
Thailand said it has partially banned Uber’s services over safety concerns and a lack of regulation. — AFP