Uber driver rubbishes claims of misconduct

Vinod Kumar, the Uber driver accused this week of trying to sexually assault and molest a 22-year-old professional dancer, has rubbished the claims in an interview to Business Standard.

Kumar, 40, a resident of Dwarka in the city’s southwest, and out on bail after arrest, said after the girl got down from the cab in Gurgaon, he shook her hand and raised it to his forehead as a sort of abhinandan (greeting). He said he wanted to thank her for being on the Uber network and told her he’d give her a five-star rating. During the training by Uber, drivers are taught to rate customers on their conduct.

“Baat hai ek abhinandan hi, agar usko negative le jaya gaya hai, toh madam ka apna mat hai (It was about a greeting but if madam wants to take it in a negative way, it is her call)” he said.

Kumar lives with parents, wife, 19-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son, and joined the Uber network last month. In an interview to Business Standard on Monday, the girl had said that after reaching the destination, the driver wanted to shake hands with her and she offered her hand. He shook it and kissed it as well. When she tried to withdraw her hand and tried to pick up her bag, he tried to pull her towards him by tugging at the bag. She pushed him away.

She has also alleged that during the course of the journey, he told her a couple times that she was looking good. When asked to confirm this, Kumar said he told her, “Vyavhaar mein, behave mein aap bahut achche lage...agar koi passenger baat-cheet karne mein achcha laga, toh yeh kehna koi galat hai? (She was seeming good-natured...if some passenger appears to be nice in hisher ways, then is it wrong to say this?)”.

The girl had said that midway, she felt unsafe, and decided to sit in the front so as to be able to pull the handbrake in any emergency. When asked why she decided to sit in the front, Kumar said she had many shopping bags on the back seat and he could sense she was uncomfortable. So, he offered to her to sit in the front, since her phone was also getting charged with the car charger.

Kumar, whose bail application was moved by his family, joined Uber at the behest of a family member. Earlier, he was employed by a private company that handled cargo at Delhi airport for one and a half years. Kumar was suspended from the company’s network soon after the incident was reported.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel