Night travel is still a nightmare for Bengaluru women

The shocking murder of a Kolkata woman by a Ola cab driver in the city, which has had its share of bad luck when it comes to cabbies, is bound to raise the question once more: how safe are woman passengers at night? (DH File Photo)

The shocking murder of a Kolkata woman by an Ola cab driver in the city, which has had its share of bad luck when it comes to cabbies, is bound to raise the question once more: how safe are woman passengers at night? 

According to police, despite the SOS option, live map route and other options being made available, it is still not safe for women to travel alone to airport and other isolated places in the city.

Police who investigated the Pooja Singh case said women who travel alone to airport and other isolated places should be vigilant as cab drivers may deviate on highways.

It would be risky if the person is not familiar with the route and is travelling alone during nights.

“We place our trust in the company from which we are booking the cab. It is their responsibility to ensure our safety and their failure to do so is appalling. It is as much the company’s responsibility to find the criminal as it is the police’s,” said the doctor-turned-reformist.

“If the company does not fulfill its responsibility towards customers, they should be boycotted,” Dr Meenakshi said.

Civic activist Tara Krishnaswamy termed the provisions to ensure women’s safety in the state “deplorable”.

“There was a call to install panic buttons. However, the helpline numbers have automated responses and in an emergency situation you can’t expect women to press 1 or 2 to connect to the operator,” said Krishnaswamy.

“There must be more legislation in place and it should be applicable to all forms of public transport including app cabs. The mechanisms in place are not conducive to the safety of anyone,” she said.

Social activist Priya Chetty Rajgopal said such “horrific incidents” are a societal issue and the blame cannot be “simply placed on any one entity”.

“Since the inception of these app cabs, there have been major strides in incorporating provisions to ensure rider’s safety. The customer has more information as compared to other modes of transport since you can verify the cab number and match the credentials of the driver as well,” she said.

S Siddegowda, retired sub-inspector of police, advised passengers to note down the vehicle number and message it to someone.

“That act itself will put the drivers on alert. People need to be more sensitive to their surroundings,” he said.

Aditi Bhatnagar, a techie, rued the lack of proper screening for drivers.

“Many times, driver details in the app don’t match the person in the cab. If we ask them about it, they say that the car belongs to their owner who hires them on a daily-wage basis. I don’t think the share-your-ride feature works very well,” she said.

Aditi said she prefers to share her WhatsApp live location with her husband when she gets into a cab.

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