EDITOR’S NOTE: On 13 January, The Quint published a video titled ''How to Prove I’m Indian?’ Muslim Driver Breaks Down Over NRC Fear', in which a cab driver is seen speaking about his fears about a prospective nationwide NRC exercise.
The driver has since been subjected to severe trolling on social media. For instance, on 15 January, Bollywood director Vivek Agnihotri tweeted, "Ok friends, I am told that this man is also a part time junior actor in Bollywood. He was paid by @TheQuint to do this performance in a written script."
The Quint would like to state the following:
- The concerned driver has confirmed to us that he has never been an actor.
- The original video was recorded by musician Sumit Roy, who has confirmed to us that the interaction was not scripted.
- Roy uploaded this video, with the driver’s consent, on his Instagram account. That is where we saw the video. After due verification and permission, we published the video on The Quint.
- The concerned driver was not paid in any manner by The Quint.
- The driver had given permission to The Quint to use the video shot by Sumit Roy, as well as provided the accompanying details mentioned in our story.
However, following the trolling he faced online, the cab driver requested the The Quint to delete the video. Concerned for the safety of the driver and his family, we are complying and removing the video from all our platforms. We are also retracting his name.
“My heart starts pounding on just thinking about NRC. I don’t have land, neither do I have documents for land. What will I tell them to prove that I am an Indian?”Cab Driver
A*, a cab driver in Mumbai, broke down while discussing his fears about the NRC. “I toil everyday and that is how I fend for my kids and send them to school. My father has passed away, so has my grandfather. I am from UP, and own no land. What proof will I give?”
Musician Sumit Roy, the passenger who recorded the video of A* speaking, told The Quint, “There was a fear and uneasiness in him. As I was leaving, we hugged each other. And then, he started weeping profusely.”
‘Worried About My Children’
Worried about the future of his family members and what a prospective NRC could mean for them, A* asks, “What will they (the government) do? I can’t understand anything. I am working hard to get my kids educated. Will their education also be stopped someday due to this?”
“A person works so hard to raise his children well and see them go ahead in life. But what if I am sent to a detention camp, and what if my kids are sent with me? What if they send us off together?”
“Are they just scaring us, or will they actually do this? What wrong have we done to deserve this? We are merely doing our work, what is our crime?” he adds.
“Ensure that those who are from here, get to stay here. We have no objection if you don’t allow illegal immigrants to stay. But if you remove those who are from here, where will we go? It’s not like we want to go to any of those three countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh). Not only will they not accept us, but even we don’t want to go there. The conditions there are not good. Those three countries are not better than our country, India.”
‘Rich Will Get Away, Poor Will Be Worst Affected’
A* continues, “What is that camp (detention camp) they talk about… Just a few bathrooms for thousands of people. What will life in such a place be like? Just thinking of that I feel like I am having an attack. What will happen if such a thing actually is carried out? Who knows, will they actually do it? I don’t understand. I get worried just thinking about it. What is this sudden burden that has come upon us? How do we tell them that yes, we are Indians? What proof do I have? I have been driving this car for three years. I have that, I have bank details.”
“But a lot of people have land that belonged to their parents and grandparents. They will have documents for that. The wealthy will get away. We, who work and earn our daily wages, are the ones who will mostly get stuck in this mess. Those who have land, and proof of owning it for the last 50 to 70 years, are safe. I don’t have any such proof.”
Passenger Who Recorded the Video Recounts his Interaction
Artist and musician Sumit Roy, the passenger who recorded the video of A* speaking, recounts the experience. “There was a fear and uneasiness in him which I couldn’t do anything about. He asked me if I am a Hindu or a Muslim. I told him that I am a Hindu. We can never understand their fear or walk in their shoes.”
“He kept talking about this, asking what he can possibly say to his kids and his family members to assuage their fears (of a nationwide NRC).”Sumit Roy, Artiste