The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday felicitated an Uber driver in Mumbai who took a passenger to the police late on Wednesday night after hearing him talk about anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests.
Mumbai BJP chief Mangal Prabhat Lodha tweeted that he “felicitated Rohit Gaur on behalf of the people of Mumbai and honoured him with the Alert Citizen Award”. Uber has suspended the driver for 72 hours pending inquiry, according to Mumbai Mirror.
Around 10.30 pm on Wednesday, Bappadittya Sarkar, a 23-year-old poet from Jaipur, got into an Uber cab while travelling from Juhu to Kurla, and began a phone conversation in Hindi with a friend about “protest cultures”, the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, and about “people’s discomfort with Laal Salaam”, a communist greeting. Around 20 minutes later, Gaur drove Sarkar to the Santa Cruz police station and accused him of being a “Communist” and talking about “burning the country”.
Sarkar claimed the driver threatened saying: “I could have taken you elsewhere, be grateful I brought you to the police station.” Sarkar told Scroll.in: “He said this in front of the police and no action was taken against him.”
In a long interrogation that followed, the police asked the poet about his ideology, the books he reads, his poems, his father’s salary, and how he was sustaining himself without a job. They also went through his phone and questioned him about his dafli – a percussion instrument he had carried to the Mumbai Bagh protest in the city.
The police took down the statements of the poet and the driver, and allowed Sarkar to leave around 1 am. By then, he had contacted an activist-friend for help.
Officials at Santacruz police station told Scroll.in that no case was registered “since it was just an inquiry”.