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Driver harasses call centre woman

Hyderabad, Jan. 29: A call centre employee here was sexually harassed by a driver on her way home last night, bringing back into focus the lack of security for women working late into the night.

The incident comes months after a call centre employee was raped and murdered by a driver in Bangalore.

Pallavi, who works for Dell, was going home to Maredpalli after an office party last night.

The driver ' Yakoob Reddy, 21, regularly takes the 25-year-old home from work ' suddenly stopped the car at a dark spot near Secunderabad club. He then leaned back and asked her for a goodnight kiss.

Pallavi called her friends on her mobile phone and told them that Yakoob had been making obscene gestures and using expletives all through the journey. They advised her to get out of the car immediately.

But before Pallavi could open the door of the car, Yakoob sped away. However, her friends and relatives caught up with him and dragged him out of the car.

They took him to Ramgopalpet police station where officers directed them to Alwal police station. But there, too, they could not lodge a complaint and were asked to go to Maredpalli police station.

The circle inspector of Maredpalli police station, Karunakar Rao, said a case was lodged against Yakoob and he has been taken into custody.

Dell inaugurated its 6.6-acre campus with a lot of fanfare this evening but there was not a word on last night’s incident at the event, which was attended by the CEO of Dell Inc., Kevin B. Rollins, and Andhra chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy.

Talking to reporters later, the chief minister dubbed it a stray incident. “One incident cannot mar the image of Hyderabad or the company.”

Dell officials said Kevin was attending a meeting and could not speak to the media.

There are nearly 1.2 lakh IT workers in Hyderabad, almost 40 per cent of whom are women working on night shifts.

City police commissioner A.K. Mohanty said he has been urging the IT industry to come out with a package to either regulate supporting services or let the police take charge. “But every time, I am told by Nasscom officials that they can take care of the problem.”

Officers have also asked IT firms to register their travel agents with the police

The incident has left Pallavi’s colleagues shaken. “What happened yesterday is just a trailer. We cannot speak out now. But a lot needs to be done for the protection of women workers not from just drivers but other employees as well,” a young woman, requesting anonymity, said.

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