Ride-hailing company Uber has reinstated a driver in Mumbai who was suspended last week for reporting a passenger to the police after hearing him talk about anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests during a journey, Hindustan Times reported on Wednesday.
Rohit Gaur had been suspended for three days while Uber conducted an internal investigation into the incident. He was also felicitated by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Mumbai unit.
Late on February 6, Gaur took Bappadittya Sarkar, a 23-year-old poet from Jaipur, to the Santa Cruz police station after hearing him talk on the phone about “protest cultures”, the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, and “people’s discomfort with Laal Salaam”, a communist greeting. The police questioned Sarkar, and recorded his statement and that of the driver.
Scroll.in had asked what action would be taken against the driver. Another query also asked whether the ride-hailing firm plans to sensitise drivers in the future.
“High-quality service is something we strive for every day,” said a spokesperson for Uber. “Following our internal review and to meet our standards, we enrolled the driver for re-sensitisation of our policies and community guidelines.” The company’s policies emphasise good behaviour with passengers, and driving mannerisms, among other things. These sessions are mandatory for all the drivers before they start using Uber, the spokesperson said.
Following adverse reports, a driver’s access to the app is restricted for two to three days while an inquiry is conducted. “This is for the safety of other riders too,” the spokesperson said. An unidentified official at the Santacruz station said investigators “found nothing” during an inquiry conducted on the basis of the driver’s statement. The police had told Scroll.in last week that no case had been registered “since it was just an inquiry”.
Violation of agreement by Uber
Congress national spokesperson Sanjay Jha said the episode was a “shocking dereliction of duty” by the company. He questioned why the driver was not trained before being recruited. “This post-incident sensitisation is airbrushing the graviatas of the dark circumstances surrounding Sarkar’s detour to the police station,” he told The Times of India. He highlighted that the company’s policies mandate that a passenger be taken only to the indicated destination on the app. Uber had violated its own contractual agreement in the case, Jha added. Sarkar has told Scroll.in that the driver had threatened him, saying: “I could have taken you elsewhere, be grateful I brought you to the police station. He said this in front of the police and no action was taken against him.”
The Congress leader said Sarkar had the right to seek legal recourse against the company for harassment and exposing him to dangerous situations that “could have even threatened his life”. However, the poet said he had no grievances against the driver, who he said had the right to his opinion. Sarkar said he did not want the man to lose his job. “What I object is to his actions – putting me at risk,” he said. “He told the police I looked like a troublemaker because of my kurta and drum.”