Indian Woman Accuses Uber Driver of Sexual Harassment


JUNE 02, 2015

New Delhi. An Indian woman has accused a driver contracted with online taxi company Uber Technologies of trying to sexually harass her after she hailed his cab, prompting the US-based firm to suspend the driver and launch an internal investigation.

Uber was banned in New Delhi in December after a woman passenger accused one of its drivers of rape. The company resumed its services in January after applying for a radio taxi license, which it still awaits.

The latest accusation surfaced on social media on Sunday when the woman's brother, Ankush Pathania, posted a picture of Uber's response to the complaint and urged the company to take swift action. A police complaint was registered late on Monday.

"My sister will now share her part of the story with the police," Pathania said. "We want the driver to be punished."

Pathania's sister, a 21-year-old professional dancer, told Reuters by telephone the Uber driver kissed her hand after dropping her in Gurgaon city, near New Delhi, on Saturday night. She ran away when the driver tried to kiss her on the mouth.

Indian law generally prohibits the identification of victims of sex crimes. The law is intended to protect victims' privacy and keep them from the media glare in a country where the social stigma associated with such crimes can be devastating.

Authorities in New Delhi have maintained that Uber is banned in the capital and is operating without permission. However, India's federal transport ministry said in April such companies should be better regulated but not banned.

Uber offers taxi services using its mobile application. In recent weeks, it has launched new safety features including stricter background screening of its drivers and an in-app SOS button that connects to the police.

Police official Amit Kumar said both the woman and the Uber driver will be questioned. Uber's general manager for Delhi, Gagan Bhatia, said the company was willing to share the necessary information with authorities.

"Uber has a zero-tolerance policy towards inappropriate behavior," Bhatia said in a statement.