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Mumbai Uber driver reports poet to cops for ‘anti-CAA comments’ on the phone

Hemani Sheth t | Updated on February 07, 2020 Published on February 07, 2020

An investor walks out of the Uber IPO roadshow with documents in hand at a hotel in Manhattan, New York. File Photo   -  Reuters

‘A glimpse of scary India under NPR NRC CAA’, says activist; Uber promises to look into inciden

An Uber driver reported a passenger to the Mumbai police, after he heard him talk about the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and anti-CAA protests. The latter was a communist who wanted to “burn the country”, claimed the driver.

The passenger, 23-year old poet-activist Bappadittya Sarkar from Jaipur, hailed a cab from Juhu Silver Beach to Kurla late Wednesday night, when he got on a call with a friend in Jaipur.

Sarkar was talking to the friend about the ‘protest culture’, the Shaheen Bagh protests, “people’s discomfort” with laal salaam, a communist greeting, and how they could make the protests in Jaipur more effective.

Around 20 minutes after he had gotten into the cab, the driver stopped outside the Santa Cruz police station, came back with two constables and accused Sarkar of being a “communist” wanting to “burn the country.”

Call for action

The driver told the cops that he had recorded Sarkar’s phone conversation and urged them to take action. Sarkar was questioned for two hours by the police about his ideology, the books he read and how he could sustain himself without a job.

The police took his statement but didn’t register a case against him. Sarkar was let go around 1 am after his friend S Gohil, another activist, arrived at the station.

Sarkar, a mass communication graduate from Fergusson College, had been invited by the organisers of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai for an event.

AIPWA secretary and activist Kavita Krishnan shared the screenshots of WhatsApp messages where the entire incident was detailed, on Twitter.

‘A scary episode’

“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,” Krishnan said in a tweet.

Uber responded to the incident on Twitter.

“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,” it said.

Sarkar later received a call from the cab-hailing company and was assured that it was looking into the matter, and that action would be taken against the driver, the Scroll reported.

Nationwide protests

The CAA has sparked nationwide protests, with many calling it a discriminatory act against Muslims. Some of the protests have been marred by violence.

A man named Kapil Gujjar open-fired near the site of the Shaheen Bagh protests in Delhi earlier this month. An indefinite protest on the lines of Shaheen Bagh began in Mumbai on January 26, called Mumbai Bagh.

Tamil superstar Rajinikanth on Wednesday backed the Act, stating that it did not pose any threat to Muslims.

Meanwhile, last Friday, President Ram Nath Kovind praised the legislation, saying both Houses of Parliament have “honoured the wish of our founding fathers” by enacting the Act.

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Published on February 07, 2020
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