Mumbai: Uber drivers to finally pay for their actions of careless driving

Nov 02, 2018, 16:30 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

Following mid-day's sustained reportage against Uber drivers involved in the deaths and serious injuries of passengers, state road transport chief initiates action against them

Mumbai: Uber drivers to finally pay for their actions of careless driving
Reza Abid Ali (left) was knocked down by an Uber driver on November 14, 2016 and suffered grievous head injuries; (right) Tanzila Shaikh died in Bhandup on June 14, after her Uber driver Inderjeet Singh Bhatti crashed his car into a stationary garbage van

Three months after mid-day's relentless reporting on accidents caused by callous Uber drivers that have left victims dead or comatose, the state road transport department finally initiated the process of taking serious action against the accused from October 20. The move comes in accordance with directives by State Transport Minister Diwakar Raote during a meeting held in July, wherein he'd taken cognisance of this paper's reports.

Raote's directives came after he chaired a meeting in July with senior transport and other senior government officials. He'd read mid-day's coverage of two major cases involving Uber drivers. The first was that of Tanzila Shaikh, about whose tragic death mid-day reported on July 12. She died in Bhandup on June 14, after her Uber driver Inderjeet Singh Bhatti crashed his car into a stationary garbage van. While Shaikh was charged Rs 568.10 for the ride, which was refunded after her husband Muzammil informed Uber about her death, Bhatti was let go with a mere fine.

The second case involved Malad resident Reza Abid Ali, about whom mid-day reported on July 20. He has now been comatose for the last 620 days, because an Uber driver knocked him down and left him with grievous head injuries. Taking serious cognizance of mid-day's reports, Raote had directed transport officials to seriously act against the accused drivers under the Motor Vehicles Act.

Ensure action, send report
Speaking to mid-day about the action, Abhay Deshpande, regional transport officer of the Andheri RTO, who also holds the additional charge of deputy commissioner, enforcement 2, said, "I've recently taken charge, and as per the directives from my superiors, I've taken up the issues highlighted in the series of reports done by mid-day. I've already issued notifications on October 20 and October 22 to the Thane and Pune RTOs, asking them to ensure action against the drivers responsible for causing Tanzila Shaikh's death and grievous injuries to Reza Abedi, and summon them to the RTO offices. They've been asked to send a report of the action they've taken to my office in Bandra accordingly."

He added, "As per procedure, before taking stringent action, we need to record the drivers' statements. Accordingly, necessary action is taken under the Motor Vehicle Act, and if the accused driver (like in Shaikh's case) happens to be a habitual traffic offender of traffic rules, we'll ensure that his driving license is suspended forever. We'll be completing the entire procedure in the next two to three weeks."

See the pain and agony
Deshpande is also a survivor of a road accident caused by a negligent driver of an app-based cab aggregator. Recalling the incident, he said, "I was heading to the airport with my wife and we were somewhere close to Dahisar, when the driver lost control and banged the car, injuring us. My wife is a diabetic, and was bleeding. Luckily, an autorickshaw driver volunteered to take us to the hospital. But the cab driver, instead of helping us, was on his mobile phone, informing someone about how there was no casualty, and the passengers were 'safe'. I had to rush my wife to the hospital, but I ensured that the driver's contract with the app-based cab service provider was terminated, which ended up happening."

"I sense the pain and agony that the family members of those who have either lost their loved ones or seen them bedridden for over a year. My heart goes out to them. We'll ensure that a sincere enquiry is conducted, and bring the case to a logical end." Deshpande added that a letter has been sent to the Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic), requesting him to ensure that the traffic police looks out for reckless and dangerous drivers.

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