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Uber driver’s suicide sparks protests in Hyderabad

K V Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on November 18, 2015

Police say family dispute the trigger, but kin, fellow-drivers allege falling income

Suicide by 27-year-old Mohhamad Zaheer on Tuesday triggered protests by drivers at Uber’s local office.

While, according to the police, Zaheer committed suicide following a family dispute over finances, it is alleged that Uber driver took the extreme step as he was unable to pay the huge monthly instalment on his vehicle and meet his expenses.

In a guarded statement, Uber’s General Manager (Hyderabad) Siddharth Shankar said: “As the police confirmed this morning, Zaheer Mohammad tragically took his own life after a dispute over some land. We have reached out to the authorities to offer our assistance.”

A kin of Zaheer told BusinessLine on Wednesday that “Zaheer sold his old Indica about seven months ago to buy a new one to join as a partner with the shared-car services company. He was attracted by the company’s announcements that one would get up to ₹60,000 a month and took the risk of buying a new car.”

“Initially Zaheer got good income. But soon he started to complain about a dip in income. After paying the EMI, he was left with only ₹4,000-5,000,” said the relative.

Zaheer had attended a dharna the drivers here last week to protest against dwindling incentives. There has been a simmering discontentment among drivers as, according to them, app-based cab services firms have been reducing the incentives.

Some 25,000 cabs are attached to Uber, Ola and Taxi-for-Sure, the three firms that provide app-based cab services in the city. None of the firms would indicate the number of cabs in their fleets.

“We get a message suddenly from the company, intimating about a change. More often than not, it is some cut,” Ramkumar (name changed), a cab driver, had told BusinessLine at the Saturday dharna.

With the firms refusing to meet their demands, the drivers had resorted to protests two months ago at Uber’s office at Madhapur. They resumed their protests today, with hundreds of drivers gathering at the Dharna Chowk near the Indira Park, raising slogans against what they call the firms’ anti-driver policies.

Key demands

The agitating drivers released a list comprising 11 demands. “The firms must honour their promise of providing a business of ₹70,000 a month. They should not charge for devices and for the Internet. Airport drop and pickup must be counted at ₹1,000 for 30 km and ₹18 for every additional kilometre,” the list read.

Responding to queries, Siddharth had said then that “some of our driver-partners in Hyderabad have expressed their concern over temporary incentives. Our teams are working with driver partners on an individual basis to help address any concerns.”

Ola did not respond to queries on the points made by the drivers.

Published on November 18, 2015
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