Protest by Ola drivers turns violent in Bengaluru; one driver consumes phenol, another attempts self-immolation

S Prabhakaran February 17, 2017 3 min

Protests by drivers of cab aggregator Ola Cabs took a violent turn on Thursday evening when over 200 drivers marched to the Ola office in Bengaluru and protested against the company to press their demands.

According to people present at the Ola office, Mohan Babu, a driver with Ola, consumed phenol at the spot, while another driver, Srinivas, set himself ablaze. Both drivers were rushed to Manipal hospital, from where they have been shifted to Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences in Bengaluru.

The Ola management locked up the office to stop drivers from entering it.

Police intervened in the driver protest and the circle inspector of Jeevan Bhima Nagar police station spoke to the Ola officials. Police have assured to provide protection to the Ola office till Tuesday and have asked the management to resolve the issue.

Police have assured to provide protection to the Ola office till Tuesday and have asked the management to resolve the issue  

Deputy superintendent of police Mohammed Khaleed asked the drivers to remain calm till Tuesday, after which police would not provide any security to the Ola office and drivers would be free to take whatever action they felt necessary.

“We will wait till Tuesday and if Ola does not take any decision, we will vandalise the Ola office,” said a cab association leader.
The inspector deployed at the spot declined to comment.

Somashekar, president of drivers’ union Namma Chalakara Sangha, told FactorDaily that the union leaders are planning to visit the commissioner of transport before Tuesday and ask him to arrange a final meeting with Ola and Uber.

“If they fail to take any decision in that meeting and nothing happens after Tuesday, we will urge all drivers to write a petition and we will approach the human rights commission. We are also speaking to some lawyers in the state to seek legal advice. If Ola and Uber don’t resolve our issues, we will go to court,” said Somashekar.

The cab drivers have been protesting against slashed incentives, increased commission rates by aggregators, declining number of rides, long working hours and decreased earnings among other issues. Drivers are upset with Ola Cabs’ management for not taking any final decision on their demands.

“We will wait till Tuesday and if Ola does not take any decision, we will vandalise the Ola office” — a cab association leader  

There have been previous meetings held at the transport commissioner’s office in Bengaluru to resolve the problems between the cab aggregators and drivers unions.

Ola had not made any comments till the time of publishing this story.

On February 15, there was a meeting called on by additional commissioner of Transport K H Kumar at the transport commissioner’s office, where Kumar asked Ola and Uber to take a final decision on the problems the drivers are facing. Uber representatives did not show up for the meeting.

Kumar had asked the cab aggregators to “follow the Labour Law”, reduce the working hours of drivers to 12 hours a day, reduce penalties imposed on them, change the feedback system by passengers. He had also asked these companies to not induct any drivers from outside the state.

He had asked Ola representatives to set up a meeting with the company’s newly appointed chief operating officer Vishal Kaul and vice-president Arvind Sighatiya.

Updated on February 23, 2017, at 4pm to correct the substance consumed by one of the drivers. It was earlier written that he consumed poison, but he had phenol. The error is regretted.


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