A woman has alleged that the driver of a TaxiForSure cab she was travelling in last week masturbated while driving the vehicle through the streets of the national capital, the latest in a string of controversies involving app based taxi services.
The woman took to Facebook and Twitter to describe the incident that she said had occurred on the evening of July 2. She said she had contacted Olacabs and was sent a TaxiForSure cab driven by Devinder Kumar to go from Saket in south Delhi to Faridabad in Haryana.
In February, Olacabs acquired its Bangalore-based rival TaxiForSure and has integrated its service into Ola's mobile app last month.
The woman wrote in a Facebook post that she had to ask the driver three times to turn down the music so that she could speak on the phone.
It was while she was asking Kumar not to drive rashly that she noticed he was allegedly masturbating, wrote the woman whose Facebook page says she works as a creative strategist for a Mumbai-based digital and social media consultancy.
The woman, whose identity Hindustan Times is not disclosing for reasons of privacy, wrote: “As I was roughly 25 minutes from my destination, the driver got impatient and started driving brashly. Moreover he seemed extremely restless, anxious, and kept mumbling something to himself. I discontinued my call and asked him to drive properly in the most polite manner possible.
“I was about to make another call when I noticed that he was masturbating while driving. He had little control over the wheel as well as his perverseness. He had a smile on his face that will haunt me for nights to come. A #PSYCHOTIC man with a severe chemical imbalance for a driver is nothing but serious,” she added.
After reaching her destination, the woman confronted the driver but he “denied everything”.
A TaxiForSure spokesperson said the driver had been sacked and that the firm will support the woman’s efforts to pursue the matter with authorities.
“Even though this driver had no track record of bad/rude behaviour/rash driving or any misbehaviour thus far, we have terminated him immediately,” the spokesperson said.
TaxiForSure CEO Arvind Singhal added: “We regret the experience the passenger had, and we do not stand by the driver’s actions. The driver in question has been blacklisted by us and his services have been terminated. We will continue to work closely with the passenger, and will support the authorities in every possible manner, as and when required.”
The woman told Hindustan Times she is dissatisfied by TaxiForSure’s response and wants the firm to do more than just “blacklisting” the driver.
She added she considers the cabbie a threat to every woman in Delhi and wants TaxiForSure to ensure he is not able to drive a cab again.
Singhal said the firm has taken several steps to ensure the safety of consumers, including live GPS tracking, the “Inform a Friend Feature” and a 24x7 call centre team. “Customer experience is our key focus, and in line with this, we take the safety of each and every one of our passengers very seriously,” he added.
When the woman called Olacab, the firm directed her to TaxiForSure, whose call centre staff told her that action would be taken within 24 hours.
The woman later tweeted that she had met two representatives of Taxi For Sure who told her the driver had been “fired”. However, her tweets suggested she was not satisfied with the action taken so far.
She tweeted yesterday: “...@TFSCares ensure your legal team gets in touch with me. Release the pic of the driver/aadhaar card asap.”
When Hindustan Times attempted to contact the driver at the mobile number mentioned in the cab booking, the vehicle's owner, Ravinder Kumar, responded and said he had sacked Devinder Kumar after getting a complaint from TaxiForSure.
In early June, Taxi aggregator Uber was in the firing line over passenger safety after a 21-year-old Delhi woman alleged she was molested by a driver in one of its cabs near Gurgaon.
The allegation came just six months after a 25-year-old financial analyst was allegedly raped on-board an Uber cab in Delhi, over which the victim took the cab aggregator's parent company to court in the US.