The Centre has asked app-based cab aggregator Uber India to act against two of its drivers, who had allegedly harassed disability rights activist Arman Ali thanks to which he had missed a flight and a meeting last month and had to shell out Rs 14,000 to book a fresh air ticket. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment wrote to Uber India "to look into the matter and take appropriate action against the erring drivers."
Ali, Executive Director of National Centre for Promotion of Employment of Disabled People (NCPEDP), alleged that the first driver cancelled the trip around 15 minutes after verbally confirming it, while the second one refused to put his wheelchair in the backseat, "pushed [him] out of the cab", and cancelled the trip. In its Facebook page, the NCPEDP on Tuesday shared the letter written by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE).
"Encouraged that the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, MSJE has taken notice of Arman Ali, ED, NCPEDP's issue with Uber India and has issued a stern letter demanding action against the erring driver. This is a wake up signal to all private/ public service providers to ensure that accessibility is ingrained across all services.#RPWDAct#CRPD #accessibillity," the NCPEDP said in its page.
Ali had shared on social media the distressing experience of being "treated horribly" by two Uber drivers in Chennai on June 20. In a Facebook post which he tagged the Prime Minister's Office and Narendra Modi, the Assam-based wheelchair-bound man said Uber India apologised to him and offered to refund the cancellation fee of Rs. 45 only. Two days later, Uber India expressed regret over the incident and said action will be taken against the wrongdoers.
Uber India does not condone discrimination of any kind, a spokesperson of the service provider had said. The June 25 letter written by Director of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, K V S Rao, also asked Uber to "take appropriate measures to sensitise its drivers to take care of persons with disability commuters sensibly so as to avoid any recurrence of such incidents in future. Action taken in this regard may be intimated to this Department".