When the news of Uber cabbie Shiv Kumar Yadav's arrest reached Ram Nagar village in Uttar Pradesh's Mainpuri, residents celebrated and women distributed halwa and prayed at the Shiv temple. The picture they painted of the 32-year-old was of a notorious serial sexual offender who terrorised women and had even been banished from the district.
Yadav, who allegedly
raped a woman who took his cab in Delhi
on Friday, was arrested in Mainpuri in 2013 on rape charges but released on bail six months later. Delhi Police have already revealed his involvement in another previous case of rape in 2011, for which he spent seven months in Tihar jail but was let off after the case fell.
Official records show Yadav has a string of criminal complaints against him, including two molestation cases, but managed to obtain a character reference signed by a police officer that appeared to have been forged .
He escaped each time due to lack of evidence - something that seemed to embolden him.
Adding to his long list of criminal transgressions, another woman came forward on Tuesday, saying she had filed a complaint against him with Uber barely a month ago but the cab company had taken no action.
"I was coming from Chandni Chowk and the driver started staring at me lecherously through the rear view mirror. The situation got so bad that I had to hide behind the seat to avoid his stares. I later filed a written complaint with Uber but no action was taken," US-based Nidhi Shah, who took the cab on November 26, told NDTV.
Shah also shared her experience on Twitter. She said she received a reply from Uber saying "someone will have a chat with the driver", but there was no further follow-up.
"I blame myself for not taking the complaint seriously. Maybe if I had insisted on stricter action, the (rape) incident could have been avoided," she told the TV channel.
Residents of Ram Nagar village, where Yadav grew up, say he terrorised local women, who dreaded stepping out of their homes after dusk if he was in the village.
"He is a compulsive sex offender. You won't find a single household in this village whose women he hasn't teased or molested. I know no less than 26-27 cases that never reached the police," said resident Kushun Singh.
Tehsildaar Singh, another villager, said, "Six months ago, he sneaked into the village, pinned down a girl and blackmailed his father into buying him a car. When his father refused, he climbed a tree with a noose around his neck... His father relented."
This was the same car he used to allegedly rape the 25-year-old financial analyst in Delhi on Friday night.
"Police had barred him from entering Mainpuri. Though people are terrified, they seldom lodge any criminal complaint because they believe it will bring a bad name to the village," said a police officer.
Despite his criminal past, Yadav had managed to forge a character certificate for an all-India tourist permit for his Maruti Swift Dzire.
Yadav's family wants nothing to do with him. "A mother doesn't expect her son to commit such a demonic act. In the past, we did our best to bring him on the right path. It is time now for him to pay for his crime," Ganga Shri, 70, said.
Mahendra Yadav, his former teacher, said, "His father wanted him to pursue engineering. He was a good student till Class 10."
Yadav's name entered police books in 2003, when he was 21, for allegedly molesting and assaulting a girl in Mainpuri. From that year to 2009, he was booked several times under the Goonda Act and charged with carrying illegal firearms.
On December 13, 2011, the son of a college principal was arrested for allegedly raping a young passenger at Chhatarpur in Delhi. The girl had hired his cab to take her home from a dance bar in Gurgaon.
But, inconsistencies in her statement led to Yadav's acquittal in November next year because the crime couldn't be established beyond reasonable doubt.
Yadav was again accused of raping a girl in Mainpuri in 2013. He was arrested after a case was registered with Elau police station but later released on bail.
He became more daring over time. He was charged early this year with molestation and assault of a woman in the Elau area of Mainpuri, where he had already faced eight separate criminal charges. Again he escaped with a rap on the knuckles because of lack of evidence.
Yadav says it was consensual sex: Cops
The police said Yadav was claiming it was a consensual encounter for which he had agreed to pay the Delhi woman the Rs 20,000 she allegedly demanded. "He claims that after consensual sex, the woman demanded Rs 50,000 and when he refused to pay up, she threatened to go to the police," an investigating officer said.
According to sources in the Delhi Police, Yadav also gave his interrogators a detailed account of the 'sexual cruelty' he subjected the woman to for almost an hour - slapping her thrice, attempting to strangle her and threatening to insert an iron rod in her, even as she cried for mercy and pleaded saying she was getting married in January.
Police sources said Yadav showed no remorse, was behaving casually and his only demand was 'low-sugar' Marie biscuits with his tea. He was on Tuesday taken to Mathura, where his clothes and two mobile phones were recovered.
"While hiding in Mathura, Yadav was in constant touch with two lawyers. One advised him against undergoing an identification parade while the other suggested he leave the country and flee to Nepal," the officer said.
Watch: Uber cab driver's mother wants punishment for her son's crime