Bloomsbury India publishes ‘untold story’ of Delhi riots and triggers outrage
Read reactions to Bloomsbury India’s book on Delhi riots and the authors choosing to hold a ‘book launch’ with one of the accused as a guest of honour
It is a ‘quickie’ on Delhi Riots. The book ‘Delhi Riots-the Untold Story’ jointly authored by three women Monika Arora, Sonali Chitalkar and Prerna Malhotra, which was apparently being launched in Delhi on Saturday, August 22, has taken less than six months to get published.
Even more remarkably, while the riots took place in the last week of February this year, barely a month later the country went into a lockdown from March 25. The publication of the book, that too by an international publisher like Bloomsbury, has come as a surprise not only because of the short time taken by the authors during the lockdown, but also because Delhi Police is still investigating the case.
Several suspects are still being interrogated and several petitions challenging the police version are still pending before various courts. The publication of the book by three admittedly pro-government and pro-BJP authors have raised eyebrows as observers see it as part of the disinformation campaign and propaganda by the ruling party.
Most of the outrage, however, has been reserved so far for the authors inviting one of the riot-accused BJP leader Kapil Mishra to the launch event as a ‘guest of honour’. It was Mishra’s incendiary speech, of which video clips are available with the police, that signalled the start of rioting. While Bloomsbury India on Friday distanced itself from the launch event, its own authors and other writers and critics questioned the editorial discretion used in publishing such a contentious book so soon after the riots.
Kapil Mishra himself tweeted that “Leftist Terrorists are opposing this Book. They want to Ban it. This Book brings out Truth of Delhi Riots,” confirming that the book carries a version authorized and endorsed by him.
It is worth recalling that even five years after the pogrom in Gujarat in 2002, no publisher was willing to publish journalist Rana Ayyub’s ‘taped and documented’ interviews with Gujarat officials and perpetrators of the riot. Eventually Ayyub had to publish and distribute the book ‘Gujarat Files’ on her own.
While Bloomsbury India in a statement has merely stated that it is not involved in the launch event, that the authors did not inform the publishers about the launch and that the Bloombury logo had been used without the publisher’s consent or knowledge, the fact that it chose to publish the contentious book so soon after the riot has put off many academics, editors, writers and researchers.
Some of the reactions collected from Twitter are as follows:
Hartosh Singh Bal: Facebook changes standards in India to cater to the Modi govt, but this is way beyond, one of the main perpetrators of the violence against Muslims in Delhi is the guest of honour? from promoting hate to promoting murder…
Nandini Sundar: Just refused to review a book for Bloomsbury Academic. If Bloomsbury publishes a book that is full of lies about Delhi's academics, in full collusion with the Delhi RSS Police's attempt to arrest and interrogate academics, they shouldn't expect any academic co-operation.
Kavita Krishnan: Publishing a narrative painting perpetrators of a pogrom as victims and vice versa isn’t something Bloomsbury Books would have tried in the US or UK or Europe. Is Bloomsbury india doing it because of racist notion that different standards apply in India ?
Stanley Johny: Protesting Bloomsbury India’s decision to publish a book on Delhi riots the launch of which would be attended by riots accused Kapil Mishra and the fake news factory OpIndia’s Nupur Sharma. It’s a shame.
Shivam Shankar Singh: Wouldn't be surprised if there's a movie also in the works based on the fake news book on Delhi Riots. The propaganda machine is formidable. You might point out the fake news on Twitter, but Facebook and WhatsApp pe kaun bachayega?
Jayati Ghosh: I am now ashamed at having contributed to a chapter in a Bloomsbury India book. When the history of our times is written, the role of publishers who colluded and published falsehoods to serve current powers will also be noted. Shame on you. You’re no longer a credible publisher.
Audrey Truschke: It is standard fascist playbook to blame the victims for the violence that others impose on them. But Bloomsbury India, do you want to side with the fascists here ? Again, this isn’t a debate of ideas but a question of lives, and who murdered some Indian citizens in a pogrom
Bharat Bhushan: Bloomsbury has published a cover up book about Delhi riots. Let's speak out against this outrageous whitewashing of the murder of over 50 innocents.
Arfa Khanum Sherwani: Hate is profitable! In the name of a book on Delhi riots, Bloomsbury India agreed to print hate propaganda against marginalized and vulnerable minorities of India. Scars of the riots are still fresh and most victims aren’t even rehabilitated yet. First Facebook; now Bloomsbury. Shame.
Vishesh Choudhary: The one who instigated the Delhi Riots will now be the ‘Guest of Honour’ at the launch of the book ‘Delhi Riots: The Untold Story’.