mid-day editorial: Prioritise the safety of passengers

The Dindoshi police on Monday arrested an Ola cab driver for allegedly molesting and harassing a 30-year-old woman passenger. The driver, identified as Pradeep Tiwari, had been on the run since May 2, when he allegedly molested the woman. A special team of the Dindoshi police traced and arrested him. The woman works in a private sector company in Powai. The accused is a first-time offender.

With his arrest, the police now need to be extra careful, because he does know the girl’s whereabouts. The cab company too, has to be stricter in vetting who they employ as drivers. While one can understand that there is no foolproof method of checking, and everyone may not have a past record, it is imperative that at the time of hiring, some background checks, references and a very thorough interrogation should be made on the driver.

When a woman complains or has some misgivings about the driver, the company needs to take this seriously. This is not some flippant issue that can be dismissed casually. Sometimes, the calls are not heeded at all, at other times, responses to complaints are addressed in a light, mirthful manner.

This paper’s report yesterday said that once the woman entered the cab, Tiwari stared at her through the rear view mirror and then made lewd gestures. He then shockingly tried to chase her when she reached her building. The woman complained to the company, but they said all they could do was remove the driver from their service.

Cab companies often display a shockingly lax attitude that suggests, ‘we have given you the car, now the driver is not really our responsibility’. The company needs to be made answerable for their employees.

These cab aggregators have changed the way we commute in the city to a large extent, but they now need to prioritise the safety of their passengers — on the roads and in the vehicle. As for the Dindoshi case, strict punishment for the culprit, protection for the woman, and gravitas about such complaints is the way forward.

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