A trivial taunt over native places ended in death as two boys aged 16 and 17 allegedly pumped three bullets into an Uber cab driver in west Delhi’s Mundka, police said on Friday.
The teenagers, students of Class 11 at a private school in southwest Delhi’s Najafgarh, were detained using the mobile phone details provided at the time of booking the taxi.
Sources said the duo hired a cab around 4pm on Wednesday, the first day 50-year-old Kuldeep Thakur started accepting passengers using the Uber taxibooking app.
On the way, the boys asked Thakur about his hometown and started making jokes when he said he hailed from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh, sources said.
Thakur retaliated with some jokes on the teenagers and on some local areas such as ‘Hiran Kudna’, ‘Mundka’, and ‘Dichaon Kalan’, they added.
An altercation broke out and one of the boys allegedly shot Thakur in his head, jaw and chest, Deependra Pathak, joint commissioner of police (southwestern range), said.
Police have registered a case of murder, destroying evidence and under sections of the arms act. Police said they will write to the juvenile justice board to let the students face trial as adults.
Investigators said the revolver used in the crime belonged to the 16-year-old’s father who is a local criminal in Najafgarh. The father is on the run and police haven’t found the revolver.
“Thakur purchased his Maruti Swift Dzire a month-and-a-half ago and initially registered the car with Ola,” Pathak said.
This is the latest in a spate of juvenile crime in Delhi. Authorities say at least six crimes are committed by minors everyday in the city and apprehended over 2,800 juveniles under various charges in 2014.
The crime also comes days after a 17-year-old boy, driving his father’s Mercedes, ran over a man in north Delhi.
After the murder, the boys allegedly dumped Thakur’s body in a paddy field.
“The teenagers drove the cab towards Najafgarh and abandoned it in a secluded place after removing its number plates. Villagers noticed the car on Thursday morning and called the police after finding a trail of blood inside the vehicle,” said Pathak.
“His father is a habitual offender. The boy claims that his father works as a security officer of the grandson of Nizam of Hyderabad. We are verifying the claims. It is suspected that the gun was either without a license or its license was procured from outside Delhi,” a police officer said.
Thakur’s nephew Jograj told HT that the police informed them about the crime after approaching them with the help of Thakur’s residential details mentioned on the cab’s body. “My uncle lived alone in south Delhi’s Andrews Ganj and was driving taxi. He is survived by his wife and three children – two daughters and a son. The elder daughter’s marriage is scheduled in December,” said Jograj.
“Our thoughts are with the family of our driver-partner, the victim of this mindless violence. We have pro-actively shared details with the police to assist them with their investigation,” said Gagan Bhatia, general manager, Uber North India.
This is not the first in a series of troubles for the American ride-hailing app in India. It hit the headlines in 2014 after one of its drivers was accused of raping a 25-year-old woman with activists saying the company hadn’t undertaken any security or screening checks.
The Delhi government briefly banned Uber, and other smartphone-based taxi services, while new regulations were drafted.