Driver engaged in inappropriate behaviour while driving through a remote stretch when no vehicles were around, tweeted the victim
Bengaluru Police has taken cognisance of the matter and has directed its personnel to take necessary action in the matter
The incident comes just three months after another Bengaluru woman jumped off a moving bike to avoid a molestation attempt in Bengaluru in April
In another shocking incident, a Bengaluru woman has accused a Rapido driver of sexual harassment mid-way during the ride.
Ironically, the incident took place when the victim Athira Purushothaman was returning home after protesting against Manipur violence in the city’s Town Hall area.
Speaking about her ordeal, Purushothaman alleged that the driver engaged in ‘inappropriate behaviour’ while driving through a remote stretch when no vehicles were around. She speke about the incident in a Twitter thread tagging the ride-hailing startup.
“During the journey, we reached a remote area with no other vehicles around. Shockingly, the driver began riding with one hand and engaging in inappropriate behavior (Masturbating while riding the bike). Fearing for my safety, I remained silent throughout the ordeal,” she tweeted.
Purushothaman also raised concerns over steps taken by Rapido to ensure background verification of the drivers, urging the platform to ensure that user safety is a top priority.
Meanwhile, Bengaluru Police has taken cognisance of the matter, and has directed its personnel to take necessary action in the matter.
On the other hand, Rapido is yet to issue any statement on the matter. Inc42 has reached out to the company for a comment, and this story will be updated with a statement when it is received.
The victim also raised a slew of other issues with the bike-hailing platform. She alleged that the accused driver, in question, arrived on a different bike than what was shown on the app.
“Surprisingly, the driver arrived on a different bike, explaining that the one registered with @rapidobikeapp was under servicing. I confirmed my booking through his app and proceeded with the ride,” added Purushothaman.
Fearing for her safety, the alleged victim is said to have asked the driver to drop her 200 metres away from her actual destination to conceal her home address. Even after the incident took place, the driver, as per Purushothaman, kept calling and messaging her on WhatsApp.
“I had to block his number to stop the harassment… @rapidobikeapp, what measures are you taking for background verification? Your users’ safety should be a top priority. Please ensure that people registered with your service can be trusted for a safe travel experience. He keeps calling me from different numbers even now!,” she tweeted.
She also shared a screenshot of the conversation where the driver can be seen messaging the victim with inappropriate messages such as ‘Love you.’
A Shoddy Record
Meanwhile, the incident has once again shone the spotlight on a rising number of similar cases involving Rapido drivers. Just three months back in April, a woman jumped off a moving bike to avoid a molestation attempt in Bengaluru. The case also involved a Rapido driver.
In November 2022, a 22-year old woman from Kerala was raped in Bengaluru by two persons, including a Rapido driver. The driver was then delisted from the platform, but it later emerged that the accused already had a criminal case against him in the past.
While Rapido claims to have a ‘zero tolerance policy’ towards violence or indecent behaviour, critics have flagged the accessibility of Rapido customer care post the completion of the ride, which is when most victims come forward.
Not just Rapido, other ride-hailing platforms have also been in dock for similar cases. In June, an Uber autorickshaw driver was arrested after he tried to molested and attempted to rape an IT professional in Pune. In March, a woman was allegedly molested by an Ola bike driver in Hyderabad.
The case has once again raised eyebrows over the norms in place at these ride-hailing companies for the background verification of its drivers. It also raised questions over the safety of women passengers during journeys undertaken via such platforms.
With the ride-hailing space expected to grow further in coming years, it remains to be seen whether these ride-hailing app crack the whip on erring drivers and institute strict norms to curb such instances.