Poet-activist taken to police station after cab driver overhears talks of anti-CAA protest, calls cops


PTI, Feb 7, 2020, 9:30 AM IST

Poet-activist Bappadittya Sarkar at an anti CAA protest

Mumbai: A phone discussion about the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protest allegedly led to a poet-activist being taken to a police station by a cab driver here 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. Sarkar himself could not be contacted to verify the account.

As per a purported statement by Sarkar, tweeted by Krishnan, he took an Uber cab from Juhu to Kurla around 10.30pm on Wednesday.

During the journey he was discussing with his friend on call people’s discomfort with the ‘Laal Salaam’ slogan at Shaheen Bagh protest in Delhi. The driver stopped the cab and told Sarkar he wanted to withdraw money from an ATM.

When the driver returned, he had two policemen with him who allegedly asked Sarkar why he was carrying a ‘dafli’ (a percussion instrument), and also asked him his address.

Sarkar, as per the statement tweeted by Krishnan, told them he was from Jaipur and had visited the anti-CAA ‘Mumbai Bagh’ protest for “sloganeering” earlier in the day.

The driver allegedly asked the police to take him into 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.

Sarkar was then taken to the police station, the statement said, without specifying which one. Sarkar requested the police to listen to the conversation and verify the driver’s claim.

The driver allegedly told him, “You people will destroy the country and do you expect that we will sit looking at you.”

Sarkar should be thankful he was taken to the police station and nowhere 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 and asked both him and the driver to record their statements, it added.

Around 1 am, Communist activist S Gohil reached the police station after which Sarkar was allowed to go, the statement added.

The police advised 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 Krishnan.

Krishnan in a tweet said 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.

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