An Indian driver with the U.S.-based Uber car service was arrested Sunday on suspicion of sexually assaulting a female passenger in New Delhi, authorities said.
The arrest of 32-year-old Shiv Kumar Yadav came after a daylong police manhunt and marked the latest high-profile case of sexual violence to rock the Indian capital, which has gained a reputation for being extremely dangerous for women.
Yadav was arrested in his hometown of Mathura, 100 miles south of New Delhi, on Sunday evening after authorities announced a reward of nearly $1,700 for information leading to his capture. Yadav, who was due to appear in court Monday, had been driving with the company for about six months, according to accounts in Indian news media.
News reports said the victim, a 27-year-old finance company employee, used the Uber cellphone app to call a car to pick her up in an affluent section of New Delhi after she had dinner with friends. After she dozed off in the car, the driver drove to a secluded area, sexually assaulted her and threatened to kill her if she told the police, according to authorities.
The woman took a photo of the car’s license plate with her cellphone after getting out of the cab and reported the incident to police.
Delhi police indicated they would seek legal action against Uber – which launched in India about one year ago as part of an aggressive international expansion – for not conducting adequate background checks on the driver. Police officials said the company had an incorrect address listed for the driver and that the car did not have a working GPS device that would have enabled it to be tracked.
“There are norms to operate such a cab service set by the transport department and we will see whether they were followed or not,” a senior Delhi police official, Madhur Verma, told reporters.
In a statement, Uber said it had a GPS trace of all trips that occur in its vehicles and had shared that information with authorities. The company also said it hired only licensed and insured drivers.
“This is an abhorrent crime,” company spokesman Saad Ahmed said. “Our thoughts remain with the victim who has shown tremendous courage under the circumstances.”
Students massed outside police headquarters in New Delhi to protest the ongoing problem of sexual violence in the capital. The latest incident came just days before the two-year anniversary of the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in the capital, which drew worldwide outrage and prompted a host of legal reforms aimed at protecting victims of sexual assault.
Uber, the San Francisco-based company that allows customers to request and pay for a car service via a mobile app, was recently valued at $40 billion. But it has also faced criticism in the United States over its driver screening practices, with riders in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Chicago pressing charges against drivers for sexual assault.
Special correspondent Parth M.N. reported from Mumbai and staff writer Bengali from Lumbini, Nepal.
For more news from South Asia, follow @SBengali on Twitter