Rape fallout: Uber may be forced to exit India for good

08 December 2014

The Delhi government today banned with immediate effect all operations by online cab service Uber in the city in the wake of the rape of a passenger by the driver on Friday night.

Moreover, an official statement said the Delhi government's transport department has also blacklisted the company from providing any transport service in the national capital in future.

Since the union government also functions from Delhi, the move seems to spell the end for the San Francisco-based company's Indian operations when they had barely taken off.

The cab driver accused of raping a 25-year-old woman in Delhi was today presented before a court in New Delhi. Shiv Kumar Yadav was arrested on Sunday from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, police said.

The San Francisco-based startup Uber's Indian operations have  been put on notice as it has emerged that the cabbie had been jailed earlier too in a sexual assault case. The question is whether Uber even conducted a background check on him before taking him on.

Shiv Kumar told the police that he had spent seven months in Tihar jail in a rape case which was filed against him in south Delhi's Mehrauli area in 2011.

The Delhi Police are questioning the officials of Uber cab service. Meanwhile, reports say that Uber has shut its office in Gurgaon in the wake of the incident.

Uber chief executive officer Travis Kalanick issued a statement today saying, "We will do everything - I repeat everything - to help bring this perpetrator to justice and to support the victim and her family in her recovery."

Kalanick further said the company will "work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs".

The issue was raised by the opposition in Parliament on Saturday. Home Minister Rajnath Singh made a statement in the Lok Sabha saying a case was registered, and the culprit driver was tracked down in Mathura.

Earlier today, the Aam Aadmi Party and the National Students Union of India protested outside the residence of Rajnath Singh over the issue. Amid the protests, Singh described the incident as ''extremely unfortunate and shameful''.

"I believe that there cannot be more unfortunate or shameful incident. We are saddened by incidents like these. Stern steps need to be taken," he told reporters.

The minister told media that existing laws needed to be implemented more effectively and efforts should be made to bring about a change in perceptions of the society.

Delhi police commissioner BS Bassi told a news agency that Yadav's interrogation is on. ''We will provide you further details after interrogation is over,'' added Bassi.

Yadav, a resident of Mathura, was caught in a joint operation by Delhi and Uttar Pradesh police.

The driver is accused of raping the woman who was returning to her home in north Delhi's Inderlok area from Gurgaon, where she is employed as an analyst in a finance company.

After the name of Uber came up in the case, the app-based ride-sharing service on Sunday issued a statement saying it has given police all details of the driver and GPS information.

"Our thoughts are with the victim of this terrible crime and we are working with police as they investigate. We will assist them in any way we can. It is also our policy to immediately suspend a driver's account following allegations of a serious incident, which we have done," Uber spokeswoman Evelyn Tay said in a statement.

"Safety is Uber's highest priority, and in India, we work with licensed driver-partners to provide a safe transportation option, with layers of safeguards such as driver and vehicle information, and ETA-sharing to ensure there is accountability and traceability of all trips that occur on the Uber platform," the spokeswoman said.

However, Deputy Commissioner of Police Madhur Verma said, "The driver of the cab had not been subjected to a police verification. The company, which did not get his background check done, was asked to join the investigation on Sunday." He said the cab also did not have the mandatory GPS.

Earlier on Sunday, the Delhi Police had declared a reward of Rs1 lakh for information on the driver, a resident of Mathura, despite constituting 12 separate teams of Crime Branch and district police to arrest him following the rape.


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