Popular singer Sayanora Philip went on Facebook Live early this morning at 4.30 am to recount her experience at Ernakulam North railway station. Sayanora was on the Malabar Express, travelling from Kannur. When she reached the Ernakulam North railway station, she says she decided to check if an Uber was available because she usually has to bargain with the auto drivers who insist on overcharging her.
An Uber driver called Hamid was available and she booked the cab. Sayanora then crossed the flyover and went near the entrance where the driver could come inside and pick her up. However, when the cab arrived, a group of auto drivers there objected, caught hold of the driver's collar and seatbelt and threatened him for coming inside. Sayanora says that the auto drivers asked Hamid to go outside and pick her up from there.
"Is there a law like this?" Sayanora questioned. Adding that she was a woman travelling alone, Sayanora says she isn't promoting Uber or supporting the service because it's more economical, it's do with security. When she shouted back at the auto drivers, they let the driver go.
She also noted that not all women would be able to respond like she did and that she was terrified and shaken by her experience.
Speaking to The News Minute, however, duty officers at the Ernakulam North police station said that there was an agreement between the auto drivers and Uber cab service that Uber drivers will not come inside the station to pick up passengers. The agreement is the result of discussions between the two parties to resolve the conflict of interest.
Ernakulam North SI Jothy Sudhakar said, "If a complaint is registered, we will investigate the case. Uber has to take it up with us but in the past, they've not shown much interest in pursuing such complaints."
Jothy Sudhakar added that the auto and taxi drivers who ply from inside the station pay a one year license fee and that they are angered when others who are not paying the fee enter the station too.
The News Minute spoke to Sayanora regarding this. "If there is such an agreement, it is between Uber and the auto and taxi drivers. It's not a government rule...as far as I know, there's no law like this."
Sayanora says, "I'm a female passenger who travels a lot. I even travel alone internationally. But such an experience is unforgivable. It's a pathetic situation. Such things shouldn't happen...especially to ladies. The other thing is that such cases happen only when there's a single female passenger. If it had been a family or a group of men, they don't interfere like this."
Sayanora noted that the time was 3.30 am and that the station was very dark. Though the auto drivers did not attack her, the experience was frightening. "It was only after I shouted that they let the driver go. I have a recording at 11 am. After that, I will be meeting DYSP Shaukath Ali and registering an FIR," she says.