At a time when the country is facing widespread political unrest against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), poet Bappadittya Sarkar was dragged to the police station by a cab driver for discussing protest culture and the much-talked-about protest site - Shaheen Bagh.
Sarkar had on Wednesday night booked himself an Uber to his accommodation in Kurla, Mumbai, from Silver Beach.
Driver overhears conversation
But instead of arriving at the destination, the driver took him to the police station upon overhearing Sarkar's phone conversation with his friend over protest cultures in different cities, the condition at Shaheen Bagh and famous South Asian communist slogan "Lal Salaam".
The secretary of All India Progressive Women's Association, Kavita Krishnan, shared on Twitter screenshots of Sarkar's conversation with her, describing the incident.
"As I got in the cab, I called a friend of mine and we were talking about protest cultures in different cities, what happened at Shaheen Bagh yesterday, people's discomfort with Laal Salaam and how we could make Jaipur's protests more effective," Sarkar wrote.
Twenty minutes into the journey, the cab driver asked Sarkar if he could use the ATM, to which he agreed. The driver returned with two policemen and told them to arrest Sarkar as he was allegedly talking about "burning the country".
Realizing that he had been taken to a police station, Sarkar questioned the driver. He replied: "Tum desh barbaad kardoge aur hum dekhtey rahenge? Main kahin aur le jaa sakta tha tujhe, shukr mana police station laaya hun."
(Translation: Should I keep watching while you destroy our country? Be thankful that I took you to the police station when I could have taken you anywhere else.)
Following this, Sarkar was questioned by Mumbai police about his political ideologies and livelihood. He was also asked why he was carrying the musical instrument dafli and advised against it as the "situation in the country is tensed, anything can happen".
The poet was let go at around 1 am. However, Krishnan mentioned in her Twitter thread that prior to Sarkar's release, the police had discussed calling the anti-terrorism squad (ATS).
She also discussed the possible outcomes had Sarkar been a minority.
Uber India responded to her thread and said: "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."