December 17, 2005
The rape and murder of a call centre employee, a 24-year-old woman, by a person pretending to be the late night driver of her company transport has sent a chill down the spine of the BPO industry in Bangalore.
On December 13, newly wed Pratibha, an employee of HP Globalsoft, located at the Electronics City, went missing. She was picked up at 1.50 am (for her 2.30 am shift) from her residence at Kumaraswamy Layout, nearly 25 km from her office, by a driver claiming to be a substitute.
On Friday morning, after the police tracked down the driver—using Pratibha’s cell phone records—they found her body dumped in a grove on the outskirts of Bangalore.
Police investigations have revealed that the 28-year-old accused Shivakumar, one of 60 drivers from SRS Transport which services HP Globalsoft, called Pratibha on her mobile phone on the evening of December 13 to tell her that he would be coming to pick her up in place of her regular driver Jagadish.
An unsuspecting Pratibha agreed and was seen off by her mother-in-law boarding the vehicle driven by Shivakumar. Minutes later Pratibha’s regular vehicle arrived at her home and found that she had already been picked up. When the regular driver, Jagadish, called Pratibha on her cell phone to verify, she informed him that she had already been picked up and handed the cell phone to Shivakumar who told Jagadish that he had been asked to pick up Pratibha.
Jagadish informed the time office at HP that Pratibha had been picked up by vehicle number 405—the number provided by Shivakumar. According to statements given to the police by Shivakumar, since his nabbing on Thursday night, he took Pratibha to a desolate place on the Kanakapura Road, leading out of Bangalore, raped her at knife-point, and killed her.
Prathiba who got married in February this year had been employed with HP Globalsoft for the past six months.
From Shivakumar’s mobile phone records, the police have found that he had also called two other girls the same night with the same story. The girls, however, refused to board his vehicle after they reportedly checked with the company and found that no replacement was being sent.
“Unfortunately, it seems like this girl was completely unsuspecting of the trap she had fallen into,” said deputy commissioner of police Alok Kumar. Shivakumar, in his statement to the police, has reportedly said that he committed the crime because he had not had sex since his wife’s pregnancy. “This has been a most unfortunate incident. It has nothing to do with the company. It is a stray, one-off incident. We are trying to strengthen the security for our employees in consultation with the police,” said HP Globalsoft’s CEO Som Mittal.
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