A day after a 25-year-old Belgian woman claimed she was molested by an Ola cabbie in Delhi, police swiftly arrested the accused while a political sideshow threatened to overshadow the incident that once again highlights the vulnerability of women in the Capital.
Rivals were quick to target the AAP government with both the Congress and BJP saying chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had failed to make the city safer for women. Seeking a report from the lieutenant governor, to whom the Delhi Police report, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted, “We are committed to the safety and security of all foreign nationals in India.”
Balraj Singh, alias Raj, was arrested from his home in Gurgaon on Sunday, hours after the woman’s complaint. She picked him out of a test identification parade and a court sent him to judicial custody for 14 days. The cab, a white Hyundai Xcent with a Haryana plate, was parked outside his house.
In a twist, the investigation revealed the cab was registered in the name of Vikram Singh, a native of Alwar in Rajasthan and the owner of the Gurgaon house where Balraj Singh occupies the servant’s quarter. Police sources said the booking confirmation sent by Ola to the woman bore Vikram Singh’s name and photograph.
Asked how a driver who wasn’t the designated one showed up for the commute, Ola said in a statement, “Ola confirms the vehicle as well as the associated operator and driver have been permanently blacklisted from the platform. We will share all required information with the authorities to help resolve this for the customer. We have zero tolerance to such behaviour from drivers on the platform.”
Mandeep Singh Randhawa, DCP (south-east), said they would approach the taxi aggregator on Monday for records of the vehicle, its owner and the accused.
The blame game started right away with former chief minister and Congress leader Sheila Dikshit saying, “Crimes against women are rising and it is worrying. The Kejriwal government talks a lot but doesn’t take any action.”
The BJP’s Vijender Gupta demanded a probe and said the government had gone back on its promise to ensure women’s safety.
A Delhi government spokesperson said, “Those accusing us are misinformed. The Delhi government is the only government that banned Ola and Uber. They are plying illegally in Delhi. The matter is pending in the high court.”
The ruling Aam Aadmi Party also demanded a complete ban on unlicensed app-based taxi services such as Ola and Uber.
The Belgian, a translator on a tour of India and south Asia, booked the cab from MGF Mall in Gurgaon and was headed to a friend’s house in south Delhi’s CR Park at 5.30pm on Saturday. The driver, she told the police, took the wrong route after Hauz Khas and stopped mid-way.
He asked her to come to the front seat and lend him her phone as his GPS, he claimed, wasn’t working.When she told him she would call her friend for directions, he snatched her phone and deleted her call records.
“He pulled up the blinds and clicked her photos with his phone. When she objected, he promised to delete them and kissed her on the cheek. He then pulled down the blinds and drove on,” said an investigator.
The police also found he had punched the ‘complete journey’ button on the app before dropping her at a location near Govindpuri, from where she called her friend.