Uber driver molests expat, held

  • Farhan Shaikh, Hindustan Times, MUMBAI
  • Updated: Aug 19, 2016 23:56 IST

A New Zealand national currently working in Mumbai was allegedly molested by an Uber cab driver on Wednesday night. She jumped off the cab when the driver touched her after stopping the car midway home. The driver was arrested on Friday evening.

The woman was returning to her home at Seven Bungalows in Andheri (West) after visiting her friend in Pali Hill in Bandra on Wednesday night.

In a Facebook post, the woman’s friend Viola Wadia wrote, “He spoke to her in a friendly manner when she first got in and asked her where she was from and made small talk. Later, he said that since the roads in Mumbai are horrible she was welcome to come sit in the passenger seat up front with him. When she refused to move, he complained about low visibility through his back screen and told her he was going to pull over to clean it. She was very uncomfortable but allowed him to stop to clean the screen. She was surprised when he came to the back seat under the pretext of cleaning the window from the inside and proceeded to put his hand on her thigh and tried to feel her up.”

Wadia said her friend “panicked and tried to push him off and only when she started shouting at him did he move off her and went back to his seat. She managed to jump off and get home safely.” Police sources said the incident took place at Juhu Tara Road.

Wadia said she was all the more shocked as she and her friends recommended Uber to the woman as it would be safe.

“She asked us if Uber was safe and all of us jumped to assure her that she was in Bombay and she had nothing to worry about. Unfortunately we were proved wrong. How many of us are using Uber? I’m expecting Uber to deal with this in a way that scares any Uber driver from violating someone. While we are going to make an official police complaint, Uber needs to check the backgrounds of their drivers,” Wadia said.

The woman later approached the Khar police along with a male friend. The police registered a case of molestation against the 47-year-old driver, Shehbaaz Abdul Sattar Shekhani, and transferred the case to Santacruz police station, under whose jurisdiction the incident took place.

On Friday, officials brought Shekhani in for questioning. Mumbai police spokesperson Ashok Dudhe confirmed the driver was placed under arrest.

“Uber has a zero-tolerance policy towards any sort of harassment or misconduct. We have suspended the and have shared all details related to the trip and the driver with the relevant authorities for official investigation,” an Uber spokesperson told HT.

Meanwhile, the RTO is awaiting a police report before initiating action against the Uber driver. According to officials, the taxi in which the alleged incident of molestation happened, was originally registered at Borivli but later on transferred to Tardeo. Also, the driver has a licence from the Tardeo RTO.

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