Despite Ban, Rivals of Uber Still Active in Delhi

By Venus Upadhayaya, Epoch Times
January 8, 2015 1:56 pm Last Updated: January 8, 2015 1:56 pm

NEW DELHI—The Delhi government’s putting a ban on a range of app-based ride services like Uber Systems Pvt. Ltd. last month hasn’t stopped a few domestic ones from operating in the city.

The Web-based ride companies, which allow customers to call for a ride through their smartphone apps or websites, were told to stop operating after a rape incident involving one of Uber’s drivers.

On Dec. 5, a young executive who dozed off in the back seat of an Uber car on her way home was allegedly raped by her driver. After the assault, she said the driver threatened to harm her if she spoke out, a threat she ignored.

The driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav, had a criminal history, including charges of rape, reported The New York Times, putting Uber into the limelight for hiring drivers without sufficient background checks.

In Uber’s defense, the company says it requires its drivers to carry permits issued by the Delhi government, and New Delhi’s deputy police commissioner said in a tweet that the driver was being charged with forging his documents, in addition to the rape charges.

Uber has gotten into hot water with Delhi authorities for other reasons, however. The San Francisco-based company was operating under an All India Tourist Permit (AITP), which allows transport either in or out of the city, but not within it.

Delhi’s Transport Department said Uber was trying to portray itself as a platform that connects drivers with customers, when in reality it operates more like a taxi-provider, hiring drivers and collecting fares. The Department says Uber has used this false image to skirt the “law of the land” and must make changes to its operations if it wants to do business in Delhi.

On Tuesday, Uber withdrew a petition it had submitted against the ban, saying it would pursue other legal means to resume operations in the city.

The Uber smartphone app, used to book rides with Uber drivers, over a parking lot in the Indian capital of New Delhi on Dec. 7, 2014. An Uber taxi driver allegedly raped a female passenger before threatening to kill her, police said on Dec. 7, sending a blow to the company's safety-conscious image. (Tangku Bahar/AFP/Getty Images)
The Uber smartphone app, used to book rides with Uber drivers, over a parking lot in the Indian capital of New Delhi on Dec. 7, 2014. An Uber taxi driver allegedly raped a female passenger before threatening to kill her, police said on Dec. 7, sending a blow to the company’s safety-conscious image. (Tangku Bahar/AFP/Getty Images)

Ban

Three days after the sexual assault incident, Web-based taxi companies like Uber were banned from operating in Delhi. Uber and its Indian counterpart, Ola Cabs, approached the Delhi High Court to lift the ban, but the court upheld the ban on Jan. 1.

Despite being outlawed, at least three domestic rivals of Uber were still operating when the Epoch Times contacted them by phone on Wednesday.

Customer service representatives for Ola Cabs, TaxiForSure, and TaxiPixi were prepared to book rides when asked about their services.

The Transport Department told The Wall Street Journal they were impounding the vehicles of drivers who were caught violating the order and fining them.

Women’s Safety

New Delhi is one of the least safe cities in India for women, and the rise in sexual assault cases has made it a top ballot issue for voters this year, according to a survey by Indian Broadcasting Network (IBN) Live, a CNN affiliate.

Statistics by India’s National Crime Records Bureau show that Delhi has the highest number of rapes of all the Indian cities, based on 2013 data. At least 1,636 women were raped in the Indian capital last year, which amounts to four rapes a day, and those are only the ones reported.

After the Uber rape incidence, authorities in the city of Gurgaon, part of the National capital region of Delhi, started operating special three-wheeled taxi services. Called “Pink Auto Service” because of their color, these taxis are meant to be used exclusively by women.