Bloomsbury India on Friday denied that it was holding an event to launch a book on the large-scale communal violence that took place in Delhi in February, with Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kapil Mishra as the chief guest. Mishra had made an incendiary speech targeting anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protesters before the violence broke out in North East Delhi on February 23.
Bloomsbury India was fiercely criticised on social media after several Twitters users shared a purported advertisement of its book launch, featuring Mishra and the authors of the book. The guest list also included filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri and OpIndia editor Nupur Sharma. The advertisement said that BJP’s National General Secretary Bhupendra Yadav would launch the book. The authors of the book are Sonali Chitalkar and Monica Arora.
Bloomsbury India said that it will publish the book titled Delhi Riots: 2020 in September but will not hold any launch event for it. “If you have come across any event information for the above book, please note it is not being sponsored or organized by Bloomsbury India,” the publishing house said in a statement.
An unidentified Bloomsbury representative told Newslaundry that the authors of the book did not inform the publishing house about the event, which they claimed was scheduled to be held on Saturday. “No, the authors did not inform us of this event and our logo has been used without our knowledge,” the publishing house’s representative said. “We are not organising any launch event for the book Delhi Riots 2020.”
Several journalists and writers took to Twitter on Friday to express their outrage over the book – which they claimed was propaganda against the Muslim community – and protested the publishing house’s decision to invite Mishra as chief guest.
“The literary world must take a stand,” poet Meena Kandasamy wrote on Twitter. “This is not about Cancel Culture. This is about defending literature from fascism. This is about standing up against religious divide, hate speech, islamophobia and false history.”
“Facebook changes standards in India to cater to the [Narendra] Modi govt, but this is way beyond, one of the main perpetrators of the violence against muslims in delhi is the guest of honour?” Hartosh Singh Bal, the editor-in-chief of Caravan magazine tweeted. “From promoting hate to promoting murder.”
Stanly John, who is a Bloomsbury India author, also spoke out against the book launch event. “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 fakenews factory Opindia’s Nupur Sharma tomorrow. It’s a shame,” he tweeted. Several others social media users tweeted with the hashtag #ShameOnBloomsbury to express their outrage.
Sudhanva Deshpande from Delhi’s Leftword Books criticised Bloomsbury for its plan to publish the book. “I’m asking Bloomsbury, as a leading publisher, to ask itself what editorial protocols permit such a book to be published in such a short time?” he said in a Facebook post. “Are you as publisher not responsible for at least elementary fact checking? Are you as publisher not culpable in playing a part in the architecture of terror being created and deployed by the State and non-State actors to punish the victims of violence, and those who stand up for them?”
Here are some other reactions
The Delhi violence
On February 23, Mishra had held a rally in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act about 2 km from Jafrabad area. He had also given the Delhi Police a three-day ultimatum to clear the protests. A day later, communal violence erupted in parts of North East Delhi, and continued or days, leaving at least 53 people dead and hundreds injured. He has not been charged by the police yet.
The police were accused of either inaction or complicity in some instances of violence, mostly in Muslim neighbourhoods. The violence was the worst in Delhi since the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.
In multiple chargesheets filed in June, the police had claimed the violence in Delhi was a result of a conspiracy to defame the Narendra Modi-led government. They alleged that people who had organised protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act were the conspirators. However, the police have failed to produce video evidence so far.
- In Delhi riots chargesheet, one witness with three differing claims about Kapil Mishra’s supporters
- Delhi riots: Young residents share the trauma of profound loss, betrayal and injustice
- #I-stand-with-Kapil-Mishra’: BJP leader features prominently in WhatsApp group of Delhi rioters
- Beyond WhatsApp transcripts, what evidence does Delhi Police have in murder cases of nine Muslims?