Mumbai Uber driver takes passenger to cops after overhearing chat on anti-CAA protests
Mumbai, Feb 07: A phone discussion about the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protest allegedly led a poet-activist being taken to the police station by a cab driver in Mumbai on Wednesday night.
Secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association Kavita Krishnan tweeted about the incident, allegedly involving poet Bappadittya Sarkar on Thursday.
Mr Sarkar himself could not be contacted to verify the account, reported news agency Press Trust of India.
As per a statement reportedly by Mr Sarkar, and tweeted by Ms Krishnan, he took an Uber cab from Juhu to Kurla around 10:30 pm on Wednesday. During the journey he was discussing with his friend (on a mobile phone) people's discomfort with the "Laal Salaam" slogan at Shaheen Bagh protest in Delhi.
The driver, who was listening, stopped the cab and told Mr Sarkar he wanted to withdraw money from the ATM. When the driver returned, he had two policemen with him, who allegedly asked Mr Sarkar why he was carrying a "Dafli" (a percussion instrument), and also asked him his address.
Last night, poet @Bappadittoh had a scary episode in Mumbai, at the hands of an @Uber driver and @MumbaiPolice cops (see screenshots): a glimpse of scary India under NPR NRC CAA, where every person will be incentivised to suspect & turn in others & police can harass everyone. pic.twitter.com/OOKUB58BxK— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) February 6, 2020
Mr Sarkar, as per the statement tweeted by Ms Krishnan, told them that he was from Jaipur, and had visited the anti-CAA "Mumbai Bagh" protest in the city for "sloganeering" earlier in the day.
The driver allegedly asked the police to take him in custody for "he was saying he was a communist and was talking about burning the country". The driver also claimed he had recorded the phone talk.
Mr Sarkar was then taken to the police station, the statement said, without specifying which station it was. He requested the police to listen to the conversation and verify the driver's claim.
The driver allegedly said to him, "You people will destroy the country and do you expect that we will sit looking at you."
"Mr Sarkar should be thankful that he took him to police station and not somewhere else," the driver allegedly added.
The police asked him about his ideology and "the people he read", the statement further said.
The police were polite with him and asked both him and the driver to record their statements, it added.
We have followed you. Please share the exact details of case in DM.— Mumbai Police (@MumbaiPolice) February 6, 2020
Around 1 am, communist activist S Gohil reached the police station after which Mr Sarkar was allowed to go, the statement added.
The police advised Mr Sarkar not to carry the 'Dafli' or wear a red scarf, "as the atmosphere is not good and anything can happen", according to the statement tweeted by Ms Krishnan.
Ms Krishnan further claimed in a tweet that this incident was a "glimpse of scary India under NPR NRC CAA, where every person will be incentivised to suspect and turn in others and police can harass everyone". She also tagged Mumbai Police and Uber.
"We have followed you. Please share the exact details of case in DM," the police said in a reply to her tweet.
Twitter handle 'Uber India Support' said the incident was "concerning". "We'd like to address this on priority. Kindly share the registered details from which the trip was requested," it said.