"Tum Desh Barbaad Kardoge...": Uber Driver Takes Poet To Police After Overhearing Anti-CAA Phone Conversation
Taking a cab in Mumbai turned a horrific incident for a Jaipur poet after his Uber Driver took him to a police station and told the cops that he had overheard, and recorded, the poet's phone conversation on the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests.
The incident came to light after activist Kavita Krishnan shared Sarkar's WhatsApp message recounting the incident, which took place on Wednesday night.
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
According to poet Bappadittya Sarkar's WhatsApp conversation with Krishnan, the incident happened when he took an Uber cab from Juhu to Kurla around 10:30 pm on Wednesday.
During the journey, he was talking to a friend on the phone, discussing people's discomfort with the "Laal Salaam" slogan at Shaheen Bagh protest in Delhi and how they could make the Jaipur protests more effective.
The driver, Rohit Singh, who was listening to the conversation, stopped the cab after some time and asked Sarkar if he could go to the ATM, to which sarkar responded that he could. Quite unexpectedly the driver returned with two policemen, who allegedly asked Sarkar why he was carrying a "Dafli" (a percussion instrument), and also asked him his address.
Sarkar told them that he was from Jaipur, and had visited the anti-CAA "Mumbai Bagh" protest in the city for "sloganeering" earlier in the afternoon.
At this point, the driver interjected and said," Sir aap isko andar lo, yeh desh jalane ki baat kar raha hai. bol raha hai main communist hoon, hum Mumbai mein Shaheen Bagh banadenge, mere paas poori recording hai." (he was saying he was a communist and was talking about burning the country).
The driver also claimed he had recorded the phone talk. When the poet questioned the driver as to why he took him to the police station, the driver said, "Tum desh barbaad kardoge aur hum dekhtey rahenge? Main kahin aur le jaa sakta tha tujhe, shukr mana police station laaya hun." (You people will destroy the country and we will sit and watch. You should be thankful that I brought you to the police station and not somewhere else)
In the two hours long interrogation that followed, the police asked him about his ideology, what kind of books he reads, what kind of poems he writes, what his father's salary is and how he sustains himself without a job.
They also went through his phone and questioned him about his dafli (tambourine), the percussion instrument he had carried with him to perform protest songs at the Mumbai Bagh protest in the city earlier on Wednesday.
"The police was polite throughout the course of this inquiry and advised me not to carry my dafli around and/or wear a red scarf because "abhi mahaul kharab hai, kucch bhi ho sakta hai. (as the atmosphere is not good and anything can happen)" Sarkar said in his statement.
While the police wrote down statements from both Sarkar and the Uber driver, Sarkar was not made to sign anything. His friend Comrade S Gohil came at around 1 am and he was allowed to leave shortly after.
Responding to Ms Krishnan's tweet 'Uber India Support' said that the incident was "concerning" and that they are reviewing the matter.
This is concerning. We'd like to address this on priority. Kindly share the registered details from which the trip was requested via Direct Message. A member from our safety team will get in touch with you at the earliest. https://t.co/1WqzzOmdKe— Uber India Support (@UberINSupport) February 6, 2020