Kirti, 28, is a professional in Delhi.
Last August, I decided to plan a short day trip for my parents. It was the first time I was planning a trip for them, so I wanted everything to be perfect. After a lot of thought and consideration, we decided to go to Mathura and Vrindavan.
So I booked an Ola outstation taxi service. Next morning, my parents and I got ready early in the morning and were very enthusiastic and looking forward to a great trip.
The beginning of a nightmare
After a couple of hours, we reached Mathura and the driver asked us for the pin. It is a number we share with the driver when the ride is over. We had booked the cab to take us back the same day to Delhi too. But the driver insisted we give the pin to him immediately, though he still had to take us back to Delhi.
I tried to call customer care to tell them about the driver’s irrational demand. However, I could not connect to them. Initially I did not give the pin to the driver but then I realised it was late evening and my parents had an early next morning return flight to Bengal. I gave in and shared the pin with the driver to avoid any uncomfortable situations.
The moment he entered the pin, the trip was shown as ‘completed’ by the driver. I was confused.
I also realised that the driver was not the one that I had booked but someone else.
He was riding the cab for the Ola registered driver. It was really scary and now we were on our way back to Delhi.
Thankfully we reached our place and I paid the driver through an online transaction. However, the driver claimed that he had not received any money.
I showed him the screenshot of the payment but he was still not convinced.
He asked us to wait for a few minutes so that I could bring in some people to check the screenshot. It was around midnight so I told him that I had done my part, made the payment, showed him the screenshot and I will not do anything further now. I went upstairs to my room.
The driver started calling me up again and again saying he needed the money in cash and that I had not made the payment and cheated him etc.
I told him not to call me again and again and that if he continued, I would call the police. My dad was looking at me with questioning eyes. He was worried about the chaos.
Suddenly our doorbell rang. The shrill sound of the bell woke up my roommates too. It was around 12:30 am at night. I could see from the peephole that there were 3-4 men standing outside my door - ringing the bell and banging the door continuously. That was really scary.
I had goosebumps.
I could see my father’s eyes peering at me. He said, ‘Is this what you call safe? And you had told us that your locality is safe? You told me you had guards below who do not let anyone enter without calling you up’.
I panicked. I called the guard - he did not pick the call. Then I dialled the flat owner’s number, he also did not pick the call. In fact the owner had switched his phone off.
That was the moment I realised that if I do not handle things on my own, my dad would ask me to return home and stop working in Delhi. He would not let me stay alone in this unsafe city and I would have to compromise with my whole career that I had worked so hard for!
Taking a stand
So, I decided to take a stand. I called the police before my dad could actually open the door and scare them away.
The police, as shown in the movies to be always late, were actually very quick that day. They arrived at my door within 15-20 minutes and handled those men robustly. They noted my complaint and acted strictly on the matter.
Since those men were repeatedly saying that they had not received the payment, the police asked me if I could show them a transaction ID. Unfortunately, the bank’s server was down that night. I could not get the transaction id. I asked a couple of my friends to check if they could login and trace the transaction id for me. They too could not log in.
Meanwhile, the building’s security guard arrived. The policeman scolded him and said, ‘There are three girls living here and it was carelessness from your side that the men could come up at midnight to harass them.’
I was continuously calling the Ola customer service. After around three hours I could finally get connected to them. They confirmed my payment. They were finally satisfied that I had made the payment.
I was so furious at that moment. The police warned them never to show their faces in our locality. After quite a rollercoaster ride that lasted till 4 am, I was kind of relieved that I showed my parents that I could handle the situation and take care of myself.
Kirti shared her story with Love Matters India for the #It’sTimeToAct campaign to mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. #It’sTimeToAct aims to bring to light stories of women who fought back against such violence or harassment.
To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model and names have been changed.