Bloomsbury India withdraws publication of Delhi riots book after outrage about guests at launch
The publishing house said though it ‘strongly supports’ freedom of speech it also has a ‘deep sense of responsibility towards society’.
Bloomsbury India on Saturday announced its decision to withdraw publication of a book on the large-scale communal violence that took place in Delhi in February. The book, Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story by authors Monica Arora, Sonali Chitalkar and Prerna Malhotra, was to be published in September.
A controversy began on Friday after several Twitters users shared a notice for a book launch scheduled for Saturday featuring Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kapil Mishra as the chief guest. Before the violence broke out in North East Delhi on February 23, Mishra had made a provocative speech targeting people protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act.
On Friday, the publisher refuted claims that it had organised the launch. Among those invited to the event were filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri and OpIndia editor Nupur Sharma. The advertisement said that BJP’s National General Secretary Bhupendra Yadav would launch the book.
After facing severe criticism on social media, Bloomsbury India said that it would publish the book, but will not hold any launch event for it.
On Saturday, the company announced its decision to withdraw publication. “Bloomsbury India had planned to release Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story in September, a book purportedly giving a factual report on the riots in Delhi in February 2020, based on investigations and interviews conducted by the authors,” a statement from the publishing house said. “However, in view of very recent events including a virtual pre-publication launch organised without our knowledge by the authors, with participation by parties of whom the publishers would not have approved, we have decided to withdraw publication of the book. Bloomsbury India strongly supports freedom of speech but also has a deep sense of responsibility towards society.”
Several journalists and writers on Friday expressed their outrage over the book – which they claimed was propaganda against the Muslim community – and protested against the publishing house’s decision to invite Mishra as chief guest.
Meanwhile, Mishra tweeted that the book has been made public. “India and the world will read it and know the truth of anti Hindu Delhi riots,” he said. “No hate campaign and propaganda machinery can stop the truth to come out.”