Uber driver who reported anti-CAA poet: He said country will burn, how can I tolerate it?

Updated: Feb 08, 2020, 07:28 IST | Diwakar Sharma | Mumbai

Uber cabbie who called the cops on Bappadittya Sarkar defends action and tells mid-day he has submitted the 'objectionable' recording to Anti-Terrorism Cell

Uber driver Rohit Singh
Uber driver Rohit Singh

Claiming he did his job as an alert citizen, Uber driver Rohit Singh Gaur, who reported Jaipur-based poet Bappadittya Sarkar to Santacruz police, for his alleged 'ab toh desh jalne wala hai' remark, handed over the audio recording of Sarkar's phone conversation to the Anti-Terrorism Cell (ATC) for further investigation.

Speaking to mid-day, Gaur said, "I am a part-time Uber driver and I usually drive in the evenings. I got the booking at Silver Beach around 10.15 pm and picked up Sarkar from there. I was driving towards Kurla when he started talking on the phone and discussing something related to the ongoing Shaheen Bagh protest. So, initially, I thought he was returning from one such protest, but wasn't suspicious of the way he was dressed."

"I heard him saying over phone that he had composed several poems and women were liking them a lot. He said, 'We should target the female audience and form something like Shaheen Bagh in Mumbai'. Later, he told the caller that 'nahi bhai, Mumbai police are too strict unlike the cops in other states'. He had plans to go to Nagpur, Shaheen Bagh and Jaipur," added Gaur.

"But I was shocked when he said, 'ab to desh jalne hi wala hai'. That is when I decided to record the conversation on my phone. Then I stopped my cab near the Santacruz police station and stepped down on the pretext of withdrawing cash from an ATM. It was around 10.40 pm then. I went inside the police station and informed the officers. They immediately came out and took Sarkar inside. While speaking to me, once he addressed himself as a Communist," the driver said.

The cops recorded Gaur's statement and questioned Sarkar till 2 am. The driver further said, "When I asked him, bhai kis cheez se aazadi chahiye tumko, he replied, 'iss government se aazadi chahiye'."

"I have handed over the recording of Sarkar's phone conversation to the ATC at Santacruz police station. After recording my statement, they took my signature and contact number and allowed me to go," he added. "My grandfather was in the Indian Army and my cousin is a serving officer in the Special Protection Group. How can I tolerate it if someone is trying to burn my country? It was my responsibility to alert the cops and I'm happy that I did it for my nation. After the incident went viral on social media, Uber suspended my ID for 48 to 72 hours because of the ongoing investigation. However, the police have appreciated my prompt effort to alert them," said Gaur, adding, "I did my job as an alert citizen of the country but people have made a mountain out of a molehill over the issue," he added.

Meanwhile, an officer attached to the Santacruz police station, said, "Nothing suspicious has been found in the audio recording. So, we allowed Sarkar to go, and have thanked the driver for doing whatever he felt was the best at that time."

"He (Gaur) knew that he might be asked to do rounds of a court if a case was registered against Sarkar. He is brave and an alert citizen of the country. There is nothing wrong to inform the police if people find something suspicious as we continue to get such calls at the police control room," the officer added.

Time till when Bapadittya Sarkar was questioned by the police

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