The Indian capital on Monday banned taxi-booking service Uber after a woman accused one of its drivers of rape. Transport official Satish Mathur made the announcement as the 32-year-old suspect appeared in a New Delhi court.
The court ordered Shiv Kumar Yadav to be held for three days for police questioning over allegations that he raped the finance company employee after being hired to drive her home from a dinner engagement on Friday night. The court also ordered Yadav’s cellphone confiscated, according to Press Trust of India.
“This is an abhorrent crime,” Uber said in a statement, adding that the company gave authorities details of the driver, his vehicle, and details of the trip route. “We will also work with the community, with government and the technology industry to find more ways to promote safety in transportation, particularly for women – both here in Delhi and throughout India.”
The case, almost two years after a young woman was fatally gang raped on a bus in the capital, has renewed national anger over sexual violence in India and demands for more effort to ensure women’s safety.
The government rushed through legislation last year to double prison terms for rape to 20 years and to criminalize voyeurism, stalking, and the trafficking of women. But activists say much more needs to be done, including better educating youths and adding basic infrastructure such as street lights and public bathrooms.
It was not immediately clear if Uber itself performed any background check, nor was it clear whether Yadav would even have been flagged. Police told Press Trust of India they were working to verify Yadav’s claims that he had been acquitted of rape charges in 2011, after spending seven months in jail. PTI did not give any further details or name the police source.
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the government “strongly condemns this dastardly act” and pledged justice in the case.
He said the 26-year-old victim had fallen asleep during the ride home. When she woke up, she found the car parked in a secluded place. The driver then threatened her, raped her, and then took her home around 1 a.m. Saturday.
Before the ban was announced, Uber described the incident as “horrific” and said it would do everything “to help bring this perpetrator to justice”.
“Our entire team’s hearts go out to the victim of this despicable crime. We will do everything, I repeat, everything to help bring this perpetrator to justice and to support the victim and her family in her recovery,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said in a statement.
Dozens of angry protesters rallied outside the home minister’s house on Monday morning to demand more action to ensure women’s safety. Police detained several people who were part of another anti-violence protest group that burned an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in front of his political party’s headquarters.
This Story is compiled with information from the Associated Press.