My ordeal with Ola still continues and I want to narrate the second part of my struggle that I underwent today. So apparently Ola called and very nicely said, “Dear Mr. Mathew we are sorry for all the ordeal you went through and you know what we have a good news for you.” I wondered what the good news would be? Is Ola Founder Bhavesh Aggarwal sending me a written apology along with an assurance of doing a thorough driver background check before hiring any more drivers to avoid any more such incidents in future? And then Mr. Zachary from Ola reads out the second part of his script, “We have fired the driver.” I am like… “What!” “Yes and we have blacklisted him and we will see to it that he won’t get any more business in Pune again. Moreover, we would suggest you for safety reasons please lodge a FIR against the driver.”
I collapse, was he giving me a good news or the worst nightmare I feared of? He then goes on and on from his script about how the procedure for Ola is all about caring for the customer and how they feel they have erred in my case and how they have penalized the driver. Really? I booked Ola… Ola hired this driver… I went through this life threatening ordeal last night… Ola customer care behaves insensitively with me knowing very well the danger I was in by disconnecting the calls midway… and who gets penalized? ME! You would ask how? So apparently his driver has my house location and he knows that he lost his contract with Ola because of the issue he had with me so in retaliation he can come to my place and harm my family and I. Worst part for a problem that could have been nixed in the bud by Ola was by hiring the right people to operate their fleet of cabs, by doing a strict background check, now it is my duty to safeguard my family and my well-being by lodging a complaint against the driver and live in fear.
So, whom should I ideally sue you might ask? OLA who else? Okay, so lauded by my friends and few members of the reputed media industry I write a letter and approach the nearest police station. Sitting outside on a bench a portly Inspector looks at me from top to bottom and asks with attitude while he twirls his moustache, “What do you want?” I narrate the entire story and then he looks at me disinterestedly and says, “Come on Saturday.” I look at him with open mouth and he says, “Time kitti wazlay? What time is it?” I look at my watch and reply, “9:10”. “Toh?” raises his brows and says, “Mera duty 9 baje khatam… toh kal subah aana.”
“Sir lekin FIR likhwana hai na,” I insist.
“Toh ek kaam karo, kidhar se chada tum gaadi?” pokes a toothpick in his teeth and spits.
“Chinchwad station ke peech se,” I reply.
“Toh abhi Chinchwad police station jao aur FIR likhwao,” looks at his subordinates and twirls his moustache while his sidekicks nod their heads and say, “Barobar.”
“Sir lekin aap zero FIR bhi toh kar sakte hai na,” I push further.
“Toh ek kaam karo raat ke 1:30 baje tak ruko yahan, agla inspector aayega uska mann karega toh likhega. Kai mandali kai boltoy (am I correct friends?)” he asks his sidekicks who reply by nodding their heads with a “Hoy Hoy.”
“Main itne der kaise ruku?” I ask looking at my watch.
“Kal raat ko kyu nahi aaya complaint karne?” he asks me again trying to show off his investigative qualities to his juniors.
“Sir kal jo kuch hua aapko bataya maine. I ran for my life as I was scared the driver will harm me.”
“Toh subah kyu nahi aaya?” laughs at me and looks at his sidekicks who join him in laughter.
“Sir woh Ola wale bole ki sham tak batayenge what they will do with my case.” I reply.
“Yeh dekho tumko idhar 1:30 tak baithna hai toh baito fir FIR bana toh bana. Aur tu zyada Angrezi mat jhad haan pachta nahi humko,” laughs louder joined by his juniors.
Dejected I walk aside and dial the number of my so-called friend who assured me that going to the police and lodging a complaint was the logical thing. His number rings and then stops. No one picks up. Then I remember the number of the journalist who gave me assurances to cover my issue in the next day’s edition if I could procure the FIR. I dial her number.
“Hello is it Madam X (name withheld due to privacy reasons)?”
“Yes. Who is this?”
“We spoke about the Ola thing in the morning, remember?”
“Oh yes, tell me?”
I narrate the entire incident that happened at the police station. I get a reply, “Do one thing. You sit there in the police station and tell them you will not move without a FIR registered. They might hit you and try to drive you off but still wait there for the next two days. Bina FIR ke mat aana as I can’t file a story without one.”
I am shocked. To give her a story I have to undergo another round of emotional and physical turmoil? “Ma’am can’t we do some awareness for the issue? So many people on social media have responded to my post and have also narrated similar stories they underwent. Don’t you feel you have some moral responsibility to take up an issue and bring it to the notice of the general public and also the high and mighty Bhavish Aggarwal?”
“Boss don’t lecture me. I work for an organization. My editor will ask me did the guy get beaten up or is there any juicy story that will give us more mileage? If I say no then she will not file the story and my time in writing the article is wasted. If that driver would have beaten you and thrown you in the jungle then we could have taken some nice pics of yours in that condition and put it on front page. Still there is time, do a dharna at the Police station. Tell them you will not budge till you get a FIR done. Make all possible ways to get beaten up by the Police so that there is some juice to this story. Otherwise you will have to shell out some big monies to get featured in our newspaper,” she chuckles.
Now my patience is up and I think of giving her a piece of my mind, “So you need a Nirbhaya or a Rohith like incident to happen for you to highlight my issue? Then you don’t mind doing a candle march or a dharna seeking justice for me after I am dead so that your paper gets more circulation? As a helpless citizen I have nowhere to go and I come to you because you assured me of timely help and now you also raise your hands like others?” and before I realize she has already hung up on me.
In short, a middle class person like me with no political or bureaucratic connections has no place in this country where the Police has no moral responsibility to help the victims. The media want juice to write about any issue. The guilty company does not want to take any responsibility and a victim like me has to keep quiet and bear the atrocities done to us without batting an eyelid. Is this the kind of FREEDOM our ancestors fought for? Look around you will find more people like me who want to raise their voice but have to keep quiet because we have NO CHOICE!!!
Oh! By the way if anyone is interested please do listen to the voice recording of the conversation I had with the Ola Safety Manager today. Read part one of this issue here.