A cab charge would have saved Prabha’s life

People both in Australia and India have said the employer of murder victim Prabha Arun Kumar should have provided her a cab voucher on the fateful evening of March 7 as she worked a double shift, finishing relatively late for a weekend.

Angry comments to this end have been posted on digital versions of some major media outlets including hindustantimes.com, thehindubusinessline.com and dailytelegraph.com.au.

The employer of the slain mum, Mindtree, avoided a direct response to southasia.com.au‘s question on cab voucher but said the company encourages its employees to remain ‘safe’. Priyanka Waghre from Mindtree, ‘the fastest growing technology firm’, said, “We always encourage our employees to be safe and to take every precaution to not put themselves in any situation that they feel is threatening. Mindtree consistently supports our employees in this regard.” The death of the 41 year old has been ‘devastating’ to the organisation, she remarked.

The Consul General of India in Sydney, Sunjay Sudhir, declined to comment on the public opinion about the cab charge issue.

Prabha Arun Kumar
Prabha Arun Kumar: 300 metres short of home!

Prabha, who her friends claim was a devoted mother and wife, was stabbed to death on a tree-lined alleyway in Sydney’s west merely 300 metres short of her doorstep in Westmead. Tragically enough, she was on the phone with her husband in India when she was attacked and is reported to have told him she had just been stabbed.

Whereas many online commenters have indicated that an employer’s duty of care cannot be expected to extend beyond office hours in an expensive city like Sydney, many others have said cab charges must be provided past office hours and during weekends.

Mark, a reader of Daily Telegraph, said, “Even in the 1990’s it was always Victoria State government policy to provide Cabcarge (cab charge) vouchers to all employees working past dark. Many other employers, both private and government, whom I worked for also had the same policy. In this era of IT cost cutting where profit is the mantra of the employers I can imagine them being too stingy to provide such an item.” (sic.)

Philip said that ‘employers who expect a woman to work long hours into the night’ should ‘provide a safe taxi ride home’ which he remarked ‘should be compulsory’. Another commenter on Daily Telegraph said, “Agree with other comments about the employer providing a taxi home- especially that she had worked a double shift.” (sic.)

Commenting on a report run by hindustantimes.com, Scattley on the other hand differed, “No company in Australia provides a cab home every night for its employees. Not only it would cost a fortune (for her it would have been three hours salary) but it would have to comprise part of her salary resulting in her income being dropped 30% or more to accommodate this.”

Asked to comment on speculations that the attack could have been racially motivated, the Consul General told southasia.com.au that nothing so far suggested racism was involved in the tragic demise of the Indian national. “I have spoken to a lot of people including investigating agencies but have found nothing at all suggesting a racial angle,” Sudhir said on March 12.

Prabha Arun Kumar
A memorial site for stabbing victim Prabha Arun Kumar: a spontaneous outpouring of grief.

A commenter (JB) on dailytelegraph.com.au who claimed to be an ‘Indian national’ said, “I appeal to Indians living in India and the Indian media not to give this is a racial spin. This was a cold blooded murder and it should be viewed likewise.”

Reacting to people blaming Prabha for walking through the lonely stretch of the park on a dark evening, Thomas said, “No amount of blame should go to this victim. Where is the State Government and the local council? If this is a known dangerous area, why aren’t the council ensuring that the path has more CCTV and is better lit?” David, another commenter on dailytelegraph.com.au confirmed the disrepute of the incident area, “It is such a dangerous place at night.”

Updated, 13 March 2015

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