At least three authors announced that they were withdrawing their books which were to be published by Bloomsbury India after the company withdrew from publishing a book on the Delhi violence following criticism on social media about the guests invited for the launch, The Daily Switch reported.
The book, Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story by authors Monica Arora, Sonali Chitalkar and Prerna Malhotra, was to be published in September. The chief guest at the launch was supposed to be Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kapil Mishra, who had made a provocative speech before the violence began in February.
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.
In response, India’s Principal Economic Advisor Sanjeev Sanyal, who has published several books, said he will never work with Bloomsbury India again. “A few weeks ago, I had raised the issue of how a tiny cabal controls Indian publishing and constantly imposes ideological censorship,” he tweeted. “We have just witnessed one example of how this insidious control is wielded. I have not read the book in question & have no idea if it is good or bad. However, this is obviously not a quality control problem but about censorship. I commit to never publish a book with Bloomsbury India.”
Retired Indian Administrative Service officer and author Sanjay Dixit, who is releasing a book with Bloomsbury in September, called the censorship unacceptable. “I do hereby announce that I am ending my relationship with them, and will send Bloomsbury a notice to withdraw my book ‘Nullifying Article 370 and Enacting CAA’ due to be released on Sep 20, 2020,” Dixit tweeted. “Let them paint themselves red.”
Jawaharlal Nehru University professor and author Anand Ranganathan said he would return the advance paid by Bloomsbury for his next book, Forgotten Heroes of Indian Science. “A book is an idea, one you may staunchly agree or disagree with,” Ranganathan said. “And an idea cannot be destroyed. It cannot fall victim to threats and blackmail by fascists. Books last because ideas do. This decision by Bloomsbury should be condemned by ALL writers and readers.”
Kanchan Gupta, a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, said the English language publishing industry has always been biased towards “politically correct” left-liberal authors.
“Loathsome ‘cancel culture’ rears its unsightly head in #India as @BloomsburyIndia dumps book on Delhi riot under pressure from bully #LeftLiberal activists and Islamists. “Book was due to be published in September. This is a new low. All who believe in freedom should protest.”
Journalist Aditya Raj Kaul said those who prevented the publication of the book are the “real fascists”. “As someone who comes from a family of a publisher and several scholars & writers, I condemn the group of hypocrites who threatened and intimidated a publisher to withdraw publication of a book on Delhi riots,” he tweeted. “This is against freedom of speech and expression. The real fascists!”