In a shocking incident concerning women’s safety, a woman in Kerala was slapped by her Ola driver when she refused to pay him the cab fare in cash. Bengaluru-based Aveta Thampatty from Mavelikkara was travelling from Lulu Mall to Panampilly Nagar in Kochi around 9 p.m. on Tuesday. She had set the payment mode on the cab aggregator app to the e-wallet, Ola Money. When the payment did not happen due to a technical glitch, the driver, K B Vinu, asked her for cash. When she refused, Vinu started hurling abuses and allegedly beat her, according to a Facebook post by Thampatty. In the post, she wrote that the “worst experience happened from Ola Cabs today at Kochi. I was travelling from Lulu to Panampily Nagar. I was asked by this Ola guy to pay in cash instead of Ola Money. Since I already [paid] by Ola Wallet and I didn’t have cash, this guy started accusing me and when I raised my voice, he beat me on my face. Well, Kerala is very unsafe to travel. He was showering abusive words on me. Really helpless situation. #womensafetyinkerala”
A police official told the Times of India, “The driver wanted the woman to pay Rs 247, the fare in cash. The woman who had money in her e-wallet (Ola money smart card), however, didn’t have liquid cash with her.” Thampatty, a digital marketing manager, asked Vinu to stop the ride as it was getting late. She asked him to contact the Ola support team when the transaction through the e-wallet did not work, and that’s when the altercation began. He abused her in Malayalam and when she tried to film a video of his behaviour, he slapped her, according to the police.
A complaint was lodged against Vinu at the Ernakulam South Station on Wednesday after which a case was filed against him citing Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code(assault or criminal force against a woman with intent to outrage her modesty). Ola in a Facebook reply to a complaint messaged on behalf of Thampatty said, “Apologies for the unsafe travel experience…We have put the driver partner under suspension and our safety team will reach out to you shortly.”
Here is the official statement from OLA-
“We regret the experience that the customer had to go through during the ride. We have zero-tolerance for such behaviour and have suspended the driver. We have extended full support to the customer to pursue this issue with the relevant authorities.
Safety of customers is our topmost priority. We have several in-app features and programs in place to ensure a safe and convenient mobility experience for customers. The Ola app is equipped with an SOS button, LIVE GPS tracking to share ride information, mobile number masking, and feedback on ride quality with ratings on ride completion, amongst other features. All of this enables a consistent experience for users. In case of an emergency, customers can also, reach out to Ola’s 24×7 helpline, directly from the app.”