My one and only worst experience in Kolkata - now all I want to do is leave the city and go home. And since the man did not hurt me physically, I have no right to complain I guess..
Here is a very disappointing and unhelpful issue that I have faced with the Kolkata police kolkata_police Kolkata Police today, and I am sharing this on social media to say that despite my strong belief in the police system, I have been badly shown the door on something that concerned my mental peace and harassment issue. I am disappointed with the Kolkata police, and doubt I will ever have any faith in their work.
I booked an Ola Prime cab Ola Cab Kolata Olacabs on the 3rd of June 2017, Saturday, from the Spencer’s Mall in Rajarhat, Kolkata, to go home with my parents and kids. The ride time, which was a mere 10 minutes, was enough to ruin my entire month long vacation in Kolkata.
The car number is WB04G1636, a White Swift DZire and the name of the driver, who also seems to be the car owner, is Arghya Banerjee.
The first thing I had a huge problem with was the horrible stink of cigarette smoke in the car. Unfortunately, at that time, there was no other cab available, neither the local cabs or from any other service provider. I entered the cab and asked the driver if he was smoking. He replied casually that it was a passenger. I told him he should have made sure the smoke was gone and the car smelled clean, before taking on new passengers. He did not answer or pay any heed. We sat down and were waiting for my mother to get in the car, but even as she put one foot inside, he started the car and moved, as a result of which my mother fell down and got hurt. I lost my mind and asked him ‘’what the hell did you do?’’, to which, the man gave me a look and a smirk, barely for a few seconds, looked at my mom, smiled and said, ‘’oh sorry, I didn’t see.’’ And that was all he had to say about it. I ignored everything and we reached home.
As the trip came to a stop, I told the driver to call up the customer care as I wanted to complain about him. He asked me what I wanted to complain about, and as I got out of the car, I told him I would not pay him till I told about his unprofessional and rude behaviour to the Ola team concerned. The driver looked at me, called from his phone, and handed it to me, to which I said I would take the call once an executive was on the line. To which, he held up the phone to my face, and disconnected the call. I asked him why he did that and he said that Ola customer care never takes the call, so it is useless. Then he told me ‘’you must have a smartphone, so go home, go upstairs and call them from your own phone.’’ I was furious by now, and told him alright, now you may please leave, I will make the call from my phone and handle it myself.
The man came out of the car then and stood up, asking if I would not pay. I said I would not pay him because the way he behaved with us and the kind of service he provided was not worth even a rupee. He started coming towards me, saying I was lying and pointing his hand towards him. I told him to stay away and not come near me, and to leave immediately and not contact me at all.
I immediately called the Ola customer care and the call was answered within a minute. I explained and my complaint was registered. I was assured that this would be dealt with seriously. I was satisfied. This was around 7pm and I thought things would be sorted.
I received an sms at 1:20 at night, from the driver, Arghya Banerjee, on my phone. The message read ‘’Thanks for not paying the 186…god bless u.’’
For many, this may be just a message, but for me, this was a gross violation of my privacy by a man who had clearly misbehaved with me just a few hours ago, whom I had been very uncomfortable with and who I had clearly told to not contact me at all. I felt scared and unsafe, especially because he knew my home, he knew about my kids, and also because I will be traveling alone a lot in the coming few weeks here. I started feeling so scared and uncomfortable that I could not sleep again, and went to the police station in the morning.
The Ola team called me and I told them that I was at the police station. They told me to complete my formalities and that they would call me back in the day.
I went to the Rajarhat police station, which is situated on the 91 bus route. I think it says Bidhannagar police station. I explained everything in detail to the cops, showed them the screen shots. They wrote the details down on a notepad and told me to wait for one ‘mejobabu’ – a higher official.
Once he arrived after waiting for 30 or 40 minutes, I had to explain everything again. The man looked at me and told me that at the moment there was nothing they could do, as he had not really done anything and so they could not take any action in ‘anticipation.’ I told him that all the ‘action’ I was asking for was a phone call to the driver, to tell him never to call me or message me or get in touch with me in any way, or contact my parents either. This cop told me that he understood, but instead of doing anything now, they would wait and if something happens in the future and this man does something, then I should immediately call them and they would help. I asked him if he meant that I should wait for something bad to happen to me, and only then they would help, to which he said that I very well understand what all this means, and that from now on I should be careful, and if I see the man anywhere or if he contacts me again, then I should inform the cops.
I was shocked. And honestly, I felt all this big talk that the cops have to say about protecting people is just a joke.
I did not agree to this at all. I refused to go home. So now the cop told me to go back to the earlier cop and tell him whatever problem I had.
I went back to the previous cop and told him, and I said I needed them to call the man and tell him not to bother or contact me, and that only then I would leave. The cop looked at me and said okay, I will do what you are asking me to do. He called the man and asked him to come to the police station. Once the call was over, I told the cop that I did not want to see that man again, nor did I want anything to do with him, so could the cops just tell him not to get in touch with me and that is all I was asking for, and my intention was not to torture him either.
Next, this cop asked me if I had paid the man. I said of course not, I have not paid, and I also mentioned that Ola is aware of this and I am not going to pay. The cop told me that I should understand that I was taking advantage of a poor man and robbing him of his hard earned money, that I should at least pay him because he did drop me home in his car. I was really shocked. I asked the cop, are you concerned so much about him that our safety does not matter? Do you want to just call him here and get him his ‘due’, and then he goes back home? To which the cop told me yet again that I should reconsider my decision and at least pay him.
The cop then tried to convince my father, who had accompanied me. He said he would call my father the moment the man reached the police station. My father agreed to come, and the cop kept telling my father that we should reconsider and pay the dues. When I said I wanted to take a screenshot of the complaint they had noted down, he refused. He said in that case, sit here and fill in all the paperwork and do everything through the proper channel, and then I could get a copy. I said I just want to click it as I was supposed to send it to Ola, but he said then sit here and do all the paperwork and get into all the details of FIR and everything that comes along with it, and then take whatever copy you want.
I thought I was doing everything through the proper channel already, going to the cops and being honest and showing proof, and putting my faith in them. But today, in my first ever visit to Kolkata, I am feeling let down, alone and really really helpless. Honestly, at this point, I want to go back and not be in this city, or meet anyone or go out anywhere, especially alone in a cab.
Kolkata police – you did nothing for me. Maybe you will now try to get in touch with me and intimidate me or scare me or make my remaining few days here miserable, or maybe you won't do anything at all, but the fact is, I am done. I will not sit and say okay to everything, especially when you have no concern for someone's privacy and safety...
And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ