Bloomsbury has published a book about the recent Delhi riots. It is being launched by Kapil Mishra, whose incendiary speeches played a role in triggering the violence; Monica Arora, who authored the cover up; and Nupur Sharma, whose OpIndia led the way in spreading lies.
Bloomsbury says they haven’t organised the event. But you published the book, didn’t you? And it’s a book goons have no problem releasing. What does it say about you as a publisher?
Am I calling for the book to be banned? No. 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? 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?
Make no mistake about it. This book has nothing to do with the pursuit of knowledge, in which differences of opinion and interpretation are not just desirable, but essential. This book is part of a multi-pronged attack on India’s secular fabric, on the idea of natural justice, on ethics, on rationality, on humanity, and, because we are talking in a publishing context, on knowledge itself.
This book has blood on its hands.
Bloomsbury, you can still salvage something here. Say you made a mistake and withdraw the book. Otherwise, really, your reputation is in the sewer.
Sudhanva Deshpande, LeftWord Books
This article was first published in Indian Cultural Forum.
Newsclick adds: On Saturday, Bloomsbury India said in a statement that it was withdrawing the book's publication "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".
Read the full statement below:
"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. 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.”